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FTC Says Jeff Bezos and Amazon Execs Used Secret App for Serious Business Talks

Jeff Bezos and Amazon Execs Used An Encrypted Messaging App to Talk About ‘Sensitive Business Matters,’ FTC Alleges

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has accused Amazon executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy, of engaging in discussions about “sensitive business matters” via the encrypted messaging app Signal. These discussions were allegedly conducted from April 2019 to May 2022, with executives actively deleting messages using the app’s disappearing feature, potentially obstructing evidence in the FTC’s antitrust investigation against Amazon.

In a Thursday court filing, the FTC highlighted Amazon’s deletion of Signal messages during the pre-complaint investigation phase, alleging that Amazon did not instruct its employees to preserve these messages until well after the investigation was initiated. Among the executives named in their use of Signal were Bezos and Amazon’s top lawyer, David Zapolsky, raising concerns about the transparency of communication within the company’s leadership.

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos (Credits: Business Insider)

The FTC’s filing is part of a broader antitrust case initiated in September, where the FTC sued Amazon, accusing it of maintaining a monopoly through anticompetitive practices. Amazon countered by suggesting that the lawsuit could adversely affect both consumers, potentially leading to higher prices, and independent businesses operating on its platform.

In response to the FTC’s allegations, Amazon spokesperson Tim Doyle dismissed them as “baseless,” asserting that Amazon had disclosed its use of Signal to the FTC years prior. Doyle emphasized that the FTC already possessed extensive documentation, including millions of documents such as emails, internal messages, and other data sources, providing a comprehensive overview of Amazon’s decision-making processes.

The FTC’s filing seeks further clarification regarding Amazon’s communication policies on Signal, including directives on usage and message deletion. This development underscores the ongoing scrutiny faced by tech giants like Amazon over their business practices, particularly regarding issues of transparency and potential anticompetitive behavior, amid growing calls for regulatory oversight in the digital marketplace.

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