Warren Urges DOJ, FTC to Probe Amazon for Deceit Over Mask Sales

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Senator Elizabeth Warren, a staunch critic of the biggest technology companies, asked U.S. antitrust enforcers to review her findings that Amazon Inc. “seems to be actively misleading customers” who are searching for FDA-approved masks.

“Given the significant public health concerns facing consumers who may be receiving misleading information from Amazon about the masks that they seek for protection from Covid-19, I urge you to review the enclosed materials and use your authorities to protect consumers and public health,” the Massachusetts senator wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who oversees the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces consumer protection laws in addition to its antitrust mandate.

Warren cited an investigation by her staff that she said revealed that the Seattle-based company’s algorithm prioritizes sponsored products near the top of its results page even when customers searched for FDA-approved personal protective equipment.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

She said Amazon often doesn’t offer adequate labeling on whether a product received FDA authorization and that the company’s quality control standards aren’t sufficient to prevent counterfeits or other products that don’t meet advertised quality standards.

Warren cited a letter she wrote in March to Amazon Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy summarizing her findings. She said “the information the company provided in response to my queries indicates that its methods may actively mislead consumers who are seeking FDA authorized products.”

Warren has long been an advocate for reining in big technology companies. Breaking up corporations like Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Amazon was part of her 2020 presidential bid platform.

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