Federal regulators have rejected the company’s claim that the executives are being unduly harassed in the investigation of the well-known streaming and shopping program and have ordered Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify in the government’s investigation into Amazon Prime.
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent body of the U.S. government whose primary duties include promoting consumer protection and upholding civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law. The FTC oversees federal civil antitrust enforcement with the Department of Justice.
Five commissioners make up the FTC, and each has a seven-year tenure. A maximum of three FTC members from the same party may be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Members of the commission are appointed. At the President’s discretion, one group member serves as FTC Chair; Commissioner Lina Khan has held the position since June 2021.
Late on Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission denied Amazon’s plea to quash civil subpoenas sent in June to Bezos, the former CEO of the Seattle-based business, and Jassy. The decision also stipulates that Bezos, Jassy, and 15 other top executives who were also subpoenaed must finish their testimony by January 20.
In July 2021, Bezos, one of the wealthiest people in the world, handed over control of the online retail and technology company to Jassy. As executive chairman, Bezos.
According to the ruling signed by FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson on behalf of the commission, Amazon has not demonstrated that the subpoenas “create excessive difficulties in terms of scope or timing.” The FTC did agree to change some subpoena provisions that it conceded appeared to be overly broad.
Since March 2021, the FTC has been looking into how Amazon Prime, which has an estimated 200 million subscribers worldwide, signs people up and cancels their memberships.
A minimum of four additional Amazon-owned subscription services, including Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, and Subscribe & Save, as well as an unidentified third-party service that Amazon does not provide, is now included in the probe. In addition to other client data, the regulators have asked the corporation to specify the number of customers registered in the programs without their consent.
The corporation, which operates an e-commerce empire and dabbles in cloud computing, personal “smart” technology, and other areas, relies heavily on Amazon Prime, which has an estimated 150 million U.S. users and provides a lot of customer data. A year of Amazon Prime costs $139. With the acquisition of the exclusive video rights to the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football,” the service introduced a highly desired feature this year.
Amazon Prime Video, sometimes known as Prime Video, is an American subscription video-on-demand over-the-top streaming and rental service provided by Amazon. It can be accessed separately or as part of a Prime membership. In addition to hosting material from other providers, content add-ons, live sporting events, and video rental and purchasing options, the service primarily distributes movies and television shows made by Amazon Studios and MGM Holdings or licensed to Amazon as Amazon Originals.
The company stated that it was glad that the FTC “walked backed its broadest requests” in the subpoenas, but it was disappointed but not surprised that the agency largely supported its viewpoint.
Amazon released a statement saying, “Amazon has cooperated with the FTC throughout the investigation and has already supplied tens of thousands of pages of documentation.” Although we remain worried that the most recent requests are extensive and demanding, we are dedicated to working constructively with the FTC staff and will consider all of our alternatives.
Amazon said that the FTC relentlessly pursued Bezos, Jassy, and the other executives and criticized the subpoenaed information as being “overly broad and burdensome.” The company objected to the subpoenas issued to Bezos and Jassy in a petition to the FTC sent last month, claiming that the agency “has articulated no reasonable justification for seeking their testimony when it can obtain the same information, and more, from other witnesses and documents.”
Amazon attempted to have FTC Chair Lina Khan recuse herself from several antitrust investigations into its business last year, claiming that her prior public criticism of the company’s market dominance before joining the government rendered her impartiality impossible. Khan was a staunch opponent of tech behemoths Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook (now Meta). As a Yale law student, she entered the antitrust world in 2017 with the influential paper “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.”