By Aditya Kalra and Steve Stecklow
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – US Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday defended the split of Amazon.com and several Indian companies and retailers demanded that the government launch an investigation into the company after a Reuters report showed that the company copied products and manipulated search results in the country.
The Reuters report, which analyzed thousands of Amazon internal documents, revealed that the US company had run a systematic campaign to create imitation products and manipulated search results to favor its own brands in India, one of the company’s biggest markets.
The report showed that, at least in India, manipulating search results in favor of Amazon products as well as copying products from other retailers was part of a formal company strategy and that at least two top company executives had knowledge of it.
The report generated criticism of Amazon from both parties in the US Congress.
Senator Warren, a longtime critic of Amazon, said that “the documents show what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power: that the company purposefully manipulated its platform to benefit its profit, while harming small businesses and entrepreneurs.”
“This is one of the many reasons we need to split the company,” said the senator.
Warren, a prominent Democratic Party member, defended the split of Amazon and other big tech companies in 2019, when it ran for the US presidency. Since then, as a senator, he has continued to put pressure on companies like Amazon.
Ken Buck, a Republican in the US House of Representatives and a member of the competition defense subcommittee, also shared the Reuters report. “These documents prove that Amazon is engaged in anti-competitive practices such as manipulating search results and promoting behavior that favors its products over competitors.”
“More worrisome, this contradicts what Jeff Bezos told Congress,” the deputy said. “Amazon and Bezos need to be held accountable.”
When contacted, Amazon said in a statement that “the allegations are incorrect and unfounded.”
“We show search results based on relevance to consumers, regardless of whether such products are privately branded offered by sellers or not.”
Amazon further stated that it “strictly prohibits the use or sharing of non-public data of vendors with them, including with private brand vendors” and that it investigates reports of employees acting contrary to this policy.
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