Dear Mr. Bezos:
We write about Amazon’s recent political censorship activity, in particular the decision to remove the book When Harry Became Sally by conservative scholar Ryan Anderson from the Amazon website, the Kindle, and the Audible platforms. In the past 72 hours, Amazon hasn’t been able to provide a sufficient explanation of how Anderson’s book, which topped two of Amazon’s bestseller lists even before its release. in 2018, allegedly violated vague and undefined offensive content. ‘ Standard.
When Harry Became Sally sparked significant discussion in national media and among policymakers in 2018, and remains one of the most rigorously researched and compassionately argued books on the subject. By removing this book from its markets and services, Amazon has shamelessly used its outsized market share to silence an important voice simply for the crime of aroused group thought violation.
The internet is at its best when it comes to an open marketplace of ideas that brings people together to share, learn from each other, and engage in a range of business activities. Many Americans have come to rely more than ever on online retail to meet their basic needs, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In its decision to remove Mr. Anderson’s book from its platforms, Amazon openly signaled to conservative Americans that their views were not welcome on its platforms. Amazon’s short-sighted censorship of this well-researched and thoughtful contribution to modern American discourse is not just a move in bad taste, but an attack on free speech that has far-reaching implications for the future of the United States. open speech in the digital age.
In its decision to remove Mr. Anderson’s book from its platforms, Amazon neglected this duty and openly signaled conservative Americans that their views were not welcome on its platforms. We seek answers, along with supporting documentation, including communication with other technology companies and members of the Biden administration, to the following questions in order to clarify the intentions and extent of actions taken by Amazon to censor the speech:
Did Amazon have any discussions in 2018 before When Harry Became Sally was first published regarding content related to your community’s standards? If so, please provide documentation as to why the book was licensed on the platform at that time.
What was the motivating factor behind Amazon’s decision to remove access to this book after hosting it for sale for over three years? Is this action part of a larger campaign against hardware and conservative voices on Amazon platforms?
Did the book violate an Amazon policy? If so, please provide documentation relating to the policy, the passages identified by Amazon as “ offensive content ”, and the step-by-step process in which the decision to remove the book was made. If so, please provide the documentation that led to the change and how publishers and sellers were notified of the change.
Was the author or publisher of the book given advance notice of the book’s removal from Amazon’s platforms? Have they been given a reason for dismissal or some form of recourse?
Amazon Web Services hosts countless websites related to religious, politically conservative, classically liberal, and other content that falls outside the realm of acceptable awakened group thinking. Are these sites at risk of being denied service by Amazon? How does determining which site to host compare to determining which books to remove from Amazon platforms?
We would appreciate a response no later than March 9, 2021. Thank you for your attention to this critical question.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Mike Braun (R-IN)
Josh Hawley (R-MO)