Invade his privacy? How dare they!
Jeff Bezos wants to know what you buy, when you go to bed, who goes to and by your house, and as per his recent iRobot acquisition, he probably wants to map the interior of your home, too. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) digging into his business? It's an outrage!
As Vice reports, Amazon has filed a lawsuit against the FTC, claiming that an investigation into the e-commerce giant has become "unduly burdensome" on top Amazon executives — specifically, Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos and CEO Andrew Jassy — who, among a number of other higher-ups, were issued civil investigative demands (CIDs) at their personal homes or even on holiday weekends. To think, the execs work so hard for their time off... poor things.
CIDs are similar to subpoenas — essentially, Bezos, Jassy, and others are being called for hearings. And from the looks of it, they're not too thrilled.
The FTC's investigation launched in March 2021, originally to look into alleged "dark patterns" — deliberately confusing or ambiguous language and imagery, usually designed to make users stick around longer or buy more stuff — potentially embedded in Amazon Prime subscription services. From there, the probe quickly grew to encompass multiple other non-Prime, but Amazon-owned subscription plans.
According to the CIDs, the FTC intends to questions to ask about all of these services, in addition to — as they vaguely describe them — "other topics."
But as per the new anti-FTC suit, neither Bezos nor Jassy has any "unique knowledge" about the situation to offer in a "grossly unreasonable" hearing. Thus, the CIDs are, in their opinion, "calculated to serve no other purpose than to harass Amazon’s highest-ranking executives and disrupt its business operations."
Importantly, FTC chair Lina Khan and Amazon have a history. Back in law school, Khan wrote what's now a widely regarded reframing of Monopoly law, which she centered around Amazon. Suffice to say, Amazon doesn't like her, and back in June 2021 — after the investigation started — it even tried to get her fired.
As The Verge points out, this is an interesting moment for Amazon to get squirmy. Subscription practices aside, the company's recent purchases of Roomba-maker iRobot, film studio MGM, and healthcare provider One Medical have had antitrust and privacy experts on high alert — the "other things" of interest to the FTC, perhaps?
Anyway, we hope that Bezos and Jassy find some zen in their moment of crisis. We've heard that mantras are helpful.
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