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Jeff Bezos And Amazon CEO Andy Jassy Accused Of Deleting Chats Amid Antitrust Probe: ‘The FTC’s Contentions Are Baseless’ – Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN)


The Federal Trade Commission or FTC has accused top executives at Amazon.com Inc. AMZN including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy of deleting text messages that could have been used as evidence in the ongoing antitrust investigation.

What Happened: In a court filing on Thursday, FTC alleged that Bezos and Jassy used the encrypted messaging platform Signal to communicate between April 2019 and May 2022. The messages were set to disappear, effectively erasing potential evidence for the FTC’s antitrust case against Amazon, the agency said, reported Bloomberg.

Other executives who communicated via Signal include David Zapolsky, Amazon’s top lawyer; Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s retail czar until 2021; and Dave Clark, a logistics executive who left in 2022 after Bezos handed the reins to Jassy.

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The FTC’s court filing builds on allegations made in its antitrust complaint against Amazon last fall. The filing seeks information about Amazon’s instructions to employees regarding the use of Signal and the retention of messages.

Amazon’s spokesman Tim Doyle refuted the FTC’s claims, stating that the company had voluntarily disclosed its limited use of Signal to the FTC years ago and had thoroughly collected Signal conversations from employees’ phones.

“The FTC’s contentions are baseless,” Doyle said, adding, “Amazon voluntarily disclosed employees’ limited Signal use to the FTC years ago, thoroughly collected Signal conversations from its employees’ phones, and allowed agency staff to inspect those conversations even when they had nothing to do with the FTC’s investigation.”

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Why It Matters: Executives turned to the encrypted messaging platform following Bezos’ revelation in 2019 that his phone had been compromised, and he accused the National Enquirer of attempting to expose his private photos and messages.

The court filing requests details on how Amazon executives instructed staff regarding the use of Signal for communication and guidelines for message retention. The FTC’s inquiry into Amazon, initiated in 2019, mandated the company to preserve and provide documents.

However, the agency stated that executives impeded the FTC’s investigation into Amazon’s business practices and potential antitrust breaches by using Signal’s feature for vanishing messages.

Last year, in November last year, the FTC accused Amazon of engaging in deceptive practices that increased consumer prices by over a billion dollars. This was followed by the FTC’s revelation of a secret algorithm used by Amazon to manipulate prices, which was included in the FTC’s monopoly lawsuit against the e-commerce giant.

Photo courtesy: Shutterstock

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Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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