Another day, another hearing. I’m watching the testimony of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Tim Cook in front of the House Judiciary Committee, so I’m not going for time today. Also if prosecution for perjury is on the table, these guys are only going to avoid jail time due to covid concerns.
Hang on, I gotta write something about what I’m hearing right now in this hearing.
Congresswoman Jayapal asked Jeff Bezos about an Amazon employee’s prior testimony that Amazon does not “use any specific seller data when creating its own private brand product.” To me, that sounds like they’re seeing what sellers are doing in aggregate, so what does it matter if it’s not specific to a seller? Like if Lou Bega’s wife asked him if he’s faithful to her and he said, “I am not seeing one girl outside this relationship.” But he’s seeing many girls, so that would make Lou Bega still unfaithful, right?
Congresswoman Jayapal asked if Amazon ever accesses third-party seller data when making decisions. Jeff Bezos just said, “Uh… I can’t answer that question yes or no. What I can tell you is: We have a policy against using seller-specific data… but I can’t say that’s never been violated.” Jayapal cited a Wall Street Journal (Hey! that’s the paper whose puzzle I’m supposed to be writing about! I’ll get to it soon. Don’t worry.) that says that they do look at popular sellers and then aggregate the data to figure out what Amazon should do on their own. Bezos says that they’re looking into it, which Jayapal said that clearly he’s not denying it.
She continues. A former employee testified to the committee: “There’s a rule, but there’s nobody enforcing or spot-checking. They just say, ‘Don’t help yourself to the data.’ It’s a candy shop. Anybody can have access to anything they want.” She asks if category managers have access to nonpublic data about third-party sellers and their stuff.
Bezos’s reply is what follows:
“Uh, I–here’s what I can tell you: I–uh, we do have certain safeguards in place… it’s a voluntary policy [not to look at third-party seller data].” Congresswoman Jayapal clarified that observance of their safeguard policy voluntary and there’s no enforcement of the policy? Bezos, still stammering: “Sorry! I, uh, may have mispoke (sic). I was trying to say that Amazon’s–the fact that we have a policy is voluntary.”
Jayapal concludes that whatever policy they have isn’t working, so shenanigans.
Also they’re using aggregate data even if there’s only seller of a thing, so aggregate=specific in those cases, and Amazon is screwing the seller. Hooray.
OK back to what you likely came here to read.
Oh, Steube just said pundint several times when he meant pundit. Good times.
Now back for real (unless something else is notable).
What’s cool about this hearing (don’t worry, this is about the crossword) is that everyone in this committee is mad at these fellows, and the theme of this puzzle the answer to 37A The start of a Lincoln line, and a hint to the circled letters: AHOUSEDIVIDED. This committee is united in its ire, though not necessarily in its arguments. The clues related to the theme:
17A Cry from Michelangelo & 19A Humble: COWA(BUNGA■LOW)LY
23A “Jabberwocky” word for four o’clock in the afternoon & 26A Purchasable grab bag in a video game: BRILL(IG■LOO)TBOX
49A Land agent Charles who was collectively shunned for not reducing rents 52A Lists for chairs: BOY(COTT■AGE)NDAS
57A Barista’s creation & 60A Sluggish: MO(CHA■LET)HARGIC
I didn’t know that boycott was named after “Capt.” Chuck, who seemingly was as much a captain as Dr. Phil is allowed to practice medicine. Fun reading https://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/captain-boycott-man-and-myth/