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Bezos: No guarantee Amazon didn't exploit third-party seller data

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Wednesday he can't guarantee employees have never used sales data from individual third-party sellers to develop the company's own products, despite a policy against that practice and past denials that Amazon engages in it.

Why it matters: Lawmakers and Amazon competitors and sellers have repeatedly hammered the e-commerce giant over accusations that Amazon accesses data on third-party sellers to boost its own house-label products. Bezos is admitting he can't rule out that this has happened.


Context: Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, whose Seattle district is in Amazon's backyard, pressed Bezos on the issue during a House Judiciary antitrust panel hearing.

  • Jayapal noted press reports that seem to contradict past testimony from Amazon associate general counsel Nate Sutton, who told her the company "does not use specific seller data" when creating its own private label products.

What they're saying: "I can't guarantee you that policy has never been violated," Bezos said, a striking admission that while Amazon does not allow this practice, it may be happening anyway. “I'm not yet satisfied we’ve gotten to the bottom of that."

Of note: Amazon has acknowledged that it does look at aggregate data on third-party sales in the course of developing its own products; its policy is only against singling out sellers.

  • Under questioning from GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong Wednesday, Bezos said that aggregate data can cover as few as two sellers, as opposed to strictly reflecting broad sales trends across product categories.

What's next: Bezos said Amazon would keep looking at this issue, and his admission ensures Amazon will continue to face major scrutiny over it.

Naftali Bennett: How Israel's new PM plans to handle relations with Biden

New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is signaling he intends to move cautiously at first on issues like Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an approach that will suit the Biden administration just fine.

Why it matters: Bennett is aiming to avoid an early confrontation with the U.S., and his fragile and ideologically diverse government will have a hard time taking any groundbreaking steps on foreign policy in the first place.

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Biden: Consequences for Russia would be "devastating" if opposition leader Navalny dies

President Biden said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin during Wednesday's summit that if jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in prison, the consequences "would be devastating for Russia."

Why it matters: Although the White House had previously warned the Russian government over Navalny's imprisonment, Biden personally delivered the message to Putin on Wednesday.

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Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will support Juneteenth bill

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will support a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday when it comes to the floor later Wednesday, his office tells Axios.

Why it matters: The House is slated to pass a bill making June 19 — Juneteenth — a federal holiday that memorializes when the last enslaved people in Texas learned about their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • It will then go to President Biden for his signature just days before the occasion and one day after the Senate passed the bill unanimously.

Biden says he raised human rights issues in Putin summit

President Biden said he raised issues including nuclear arms control, cybersecurity, election interference and violations of human rights in Russia in his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Tuesday.

What he's saying: "My agenda is not against Russia or anybody else. It's for the American people," Biden said at a press conference following the summit, which was shorter than expected.

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Putin calls talks with Biden "constructive," says ambassadors will return to posts

Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia said Wednesday that his summit with President Biden was "constructive," and that the countries had agreed their ambassadors would imminently return to their posts in Moscow and Washington.

What he's saying: "Many of our joint positions are divergent but nevertheless I think both sides manifested a determination to try and understand each other and try and converge our positions," Putin told reporters at a press conference immediately following the meetings.

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Southwest heat wave intensifies, 40 million likely to see 100-degree temperatures

A punishing and long-enduring heat wave is intensifying in parts of the West and Southwest, with heat warnings and advisories in effect across seven states Wednesday. The heat will not relent until late in the weekend.

Threat level: In the coming days, 40 million are likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100 degrees.

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Lordstown Motors: A tale of hubris, political pandering and regulatory failure

Lordstown Motors is the quintessential business fiasco. Equal parts hubris, political pandering and regulatory failure.

Why it matters: There's no indication that anyone will learn their lesson, except perhaps for some random retail investors who didn't diversify.

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GM boosts investment in electric, autonomous vehicles by $8 billion

General Motors plans to boost its cumulative investment in electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion from 2020-2025, a significant jump from a $27 billion target.

Driving the news: GM said this morning that the initiative will include building two new battery cell manufacturing plants in addition to the two already under construction in Tennessee and Ohio.

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