WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee on Friday called on Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, to testify before Congress, in a major escalation of its investigation into the country’s largest technology companies.
The testimony would allow lawmakers to question Mr. Bezos, the world’s richest person, about accusations that Amazon abuses it market power in online retail, mistreats warehouse workers and hurts small businesses.
The panel’s antitrust subcommittee has for months been investigating the power of Amazon, along with that of Facebook, Google and Apple. Last year, lawmakers requested a slew of internal documents from the companies, including emails between top executives.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by the Democratic chairman of the committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, threatened to use the panel’s power to legally compel Mr. Bezos, the to testify if he did not do so willingly, a serious step in any congressional investigation.
“Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary,” the lawmakers wrote to Mr. Bezos.
Mr. Bezos has traditionally relied on his deputies, like Jay Carney, a former White House press secretary, to interact with policymakers. But he has made moves in recent years toward becoming a greater presence in Washington.
He bought the Washington Post in 2013, and keeps a sprawling home in the city’s upscale Kalorama neighborhood. Earlier this year, he hosted an after-party for the annual Alfalfa Club dinner at his mansion, drawing business and political leaders.
The decision to call Mr. Bezos to testify comes after an article in The Wall Street Journal detailed how Amazon employees had used data from third-party sellers to hone its private label offerings, potentially contradicting testimony given by an Amazon lawyer to the committee last year.
An Amazon spokeswoman did not immediately offer a comment on the committee’s demands.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.