September 19, 2018

Amazon antitrust probe: EU to investigate Amazon’s use of third-party merchant data

By Luke Christou

As the European Union continues to go after Google over antitrust violations, it has now set its sights on ecommerce giant Amazon too.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has announced that it will begin a probe into how the retailer gathers information on sales made by third party merchants using its Amazon Marketplace platform.

The Amazon Marketplace allows third-party sellers to sign up and offer products to the millions of users that visit the website each month. However, there are concerns that the data Amazon collects through the Marketplace offers it an unfair advantage over other sellers using its platform.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Vestager said:

“The question here is about the data,

“Do you then also use this data to do your own calculations, as to what is the new big thing, what is it that people want, what kind of offers do they like to receive, what makes them buy things?”

It has been stressed that the probe is still at a very early stage. The EU has yet to open a formal investigation into the matter.

EU regulators have approached a number of third party companies to gather information on Amazon, both as a retailer and a marketplace.

The EU’s announcement comes the day after Amazon was revealed as consumers’ leading retailer.

 EU gets tough on US tech giants

Amazon is the EU’s latest target as Vestager’s Competition Commission continues to go after tech giants.

The EU recently hit Google with a $5bn fine for breach of antitrust laws over its Android operating system. It was ruled that the tech giant had used its mobile operating system to “cement its dominant position in search” by forcing smartphone manufacturers to preinstall the Google Search and Chrome apps.

The commission previously fined Google $2.8bn over its shopping comparison service, Google Shopping. Likewise, an investigation into the tech giant’s advertisement delivery service AdSense is also ongoing.

The EU also quizzed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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