The corporate additionally alleges that FTC workers have been pressured to wrap up the investigation and, as quickly as this fall, subject a proper suggestion to the fee on subsequent steps.
Amazon’s submitting requires high FTC officers to intervene by limiting the scope of the company’s requests for info; extending the corporate’s deadline to reply; and permitting firm attorneys to symbolize 17 present or former Amazon officers, together with Bezos and Jassy, who have been served individually with civil subpoenas as a part of the investigation.
The FTC declined to remark.
The petition highlights the rising tensions between Amazon and the FTC, which beneath Chair Lina Khan has aggressively pushed to increase oversight of Huge Tech. And it additionally reveals the extraordinary breadth of the FTC’s investigation, which has expanded to cowl practically a half-dozen Amazon companies together with Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Limitless and Subscribe & Save.
The initiative might in the end drive on the core enterprise fashions of many giant tech platforms, together with Amazon, and raises questions on every little thing from social media algorithms to focused promoting and so-called “darkish patterns” — consumer interface designs meant to subtly steer individuals towards accepting sure settings or to stay subscribed to companies.
Since March 2021, the FTC has been investigating whether or not Amazon could have used unlawfully misleading strategies to routinely subscribe individuals to Amazon Prime, Amazon’s submitting confirms. Since then, Amazon has supplied roughly 37,000 paperwork in response to the probe, the submitting mentioned.
A 12 months later, Amazon mentioned, after months of radio silence, the FTC despatched the corporate a brand new authorized request that dramatically expanded the company’s informational requests to incorporate the opposite companies. It even sought info on whether or not Amazon execs could have used “ephemeral messaging” — a function supplied in apps corresponding to Sign and Telegram that routinely deletes messages after they’re despatched — to secretly talk about Amazon’s Prime enrollment practices.
“The work to adjust to requests for these non-Prime packages is simply starting. It’s unworkable to have it accomplished in just a few weeks as workers has demanded,” Amazon wrote to the FTC in its submitting. As a result of every of the opposite companies are run by totally different groups of individuals, Amazon would wish time the FTC has not granted to interview dozens of potential witnesses and acquire related information to adjust to the investigation, the submitting mentioned.
The brand new request this June got here after a Enterprise Insider article within the spring described inside Amazon paperwork that reportedly confirmed how some inside the firm have been involved about using darkish patterns in reference to Amazon Prime. (Amazon’s submitting reveals the FTC’s communications to the corporate had talked about an article by Insider, however the submitting doesn’t disclose which one.)