Amazon faces EU antitrust probe for third-party retailer data use
An exterior view of the Amazon logistic center in Werne, Germany, 16 July 2019. EFE/EPA/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL
Brussels, Jul 17 (efe-epa).- The European Commission on Wednesday opened a formal investigation into US tech giant Amazon to see whether its use of sensitive data from independent retailers on its site breached EU competition rules.
The Commission's antitrust unit said it would investigate the agreements Amazon had with its marketplace sellers, which are third-party retailers using the company's platform, and how it awards its "Buy Boxes," the section of the item listing that allows customers to make purchases.
Outgoing Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "European consumers are increasingly shopping online. E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices.
"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.”
The EU statement said that Amazon had two roles on its platform, one as a retailer itself and another providing a space on its marketplace for independent traders.
The bloc's antitrust body wants to investigate whether data collected by Amazon on the third-party retailers, their products and transactions were being used in a way that contravened competition norms.
"If proven, the practices under investigation may breach EU competition rules on anticompetitive agreements between companies," the Commission said.
It said it would launch the investigation as a matter of priority and underlined that it would not prejudge the outcome.
The Commission gave no timeframe for the investigation, which would depend on the complexity of the case and the level of cooperation with the American multinational.
Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, said it would cooperate with the probe.
The online retailer, which has since branched out into film and television, tripled its profits in 2018, surpassing 10 billion dollars. EFE-EPA