Many politicians are calling for the breakup of Big Tech and major retailers after a government report and investigation revealed that the company has copied thousands of products, created knockoffs, and rigged search results in India. The report reveals that some of the Amazon products in India were being boosted and pushed through manipulating search results in order to grow its own market. The report reveals that Amazon workers in India were a part of a larger strategy to manipulate search results in favor of Amazon products. The strategy had been reviewed by at least two senior executives.
Left-leaning presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren linked the report to Twitter and Facebook, adding that these documents are what they “feared” about Amazon’s monopoly power. She has been a long-time critic of Amazon and has said that the platform is willing to rig the game to benefit the bottom line while stifling small businesses and entrepreneurs. She said the report is one of the many reasons why they need to break up big tech companies and has continued to apply pressure on them.
GOP House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee member Ken Buck also pointed out that the documents prove Amazon engages in “anti-competitive practices” by rigging search results and referencing their own products over competitors.
“More concerning, it contradicts what Jeff Bezos told Congress. Amazon and Bezos must be held accountable,” Buck said.
Amazon, however, has only pushed back that their search results are based on the relevance of the customer’s search query and that they believe these claims in the report are “factually incorrect and unsubstantiated.”
“We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated,” the company said. “We continue to focus on delivering first-class service to consumers and helping India’s small businesses reach customers around the world,” Amazon stated.
They would not elaborate on their defense, with founder Bezos only saying back in 2019 that they do not alter search results or private-label products to favor them. He said this in sworn testimony before a DC subcommittee.
But the report has revealed how Amazon brand teams in India are exploiting internal data and copying other products to offer on the platform. They promoted this brand strategy so that Amazon products would appear “in the first 2 or three search results.”
Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of All India Traders shared that Amazon is causing a “great disadvantage” to the small manufacturers and that the foreign e-commerce businesses are hurting the smaller firms by engaging in unfair business practices. The Confederation currently represents 80 million retail stores in the country. The group has urged the Indian government to investigate the credibility of Amazon in the Indian ecosystem and their “predatory playbook” of copying, rigging, and killing Indian brands.
Co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch even urged the people of the country to “#boycott Amazon” as they continue “eating the cake that is not meant for them.” India has grown its markets significantly with Amazon, but many believe that the private brand teams are using internal data to counterfeit and sell their own.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Amazon is nothing but elaborate copycats with a good keyboard. But swallowing up the rest of the business through anti-competitive practices and rigging the search results is just another reason to keep an eye on Big Tech. And the things we click on.