Published On: Wed, Jul 17th, 2019

EU opens Amazon antitrust investigation

The EU’s Competition Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon to investigate whether the company is using sales data to gain an unfair advantage over smaller sellers on the Marketplace platform. The Commission says it will look into Amazon’s agreements with marketplace sellers, as well as how Amazon uses data to choose which retailer to link to using the “Buy Box” on its site.

“E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices,” said the EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “We need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behavior. I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon’s business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules.”

Responding to the news, Amazon says that it will cooperate fully with the investigation.

Last September, European regulators announced that they were taking a preliminary look at Amazon’s data collection practices. “If you, as Amazon, get the data from the smaller merchants that you host, which can be of course completely legitimate because you can improve your service to these smaller merchants, do you then also use this data to do your own calculations?” Vestager said at the time.

The investigation is the latest, and potentially the last, antitrust action to have been opened by Vestager, who has served as the Competition Commissioner on the European Commission for the past five years. During her tenure, which is due to end in October, Vestager has fined almost all of the major tech giants, including Google, Qualcomm, and Facebook. Apple was also forced to pay back $15.4 billion in taxes, thanks to a ruling by Vestager. So far, Amazon has managed to avoid being fined by EU regulators, but that could all change as a result of this investigation.

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EU opens Amazon antitrust investigation