BRUSSELS: The European Union is opening a new front in its quest to more closely regulate big tech companies, saying Wednesday it was investigating whether US online giant Amazon uses data from independent retailers to gain an illegal edge when selling its own products.
EU antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she is taking 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.”
In addition to selling its own products, Amazon also allows third-party retailers to sell their goods through its site. Last year, more than half of the items sold on Amazon worldwide were from third-party sellers.
The EU opened a preliminary probe into the issue last year, and Vestager said it has shown that “Amazon appears to use competitively sensitive information – about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace.” Using the information could give it an unfair competitive edge.
In a parallel case, Germany’s competition regulator said Wednesday that Amazon was changing some of its business conditions for traders on its online marketplace worldwide after it raised concerns about some terms. The regulator said that the changes affect a range of issues such as a one-sided exemption from liability to Amazon’s benefit as well as the place of jurisdiction for disputes.
Other EU countries like Austria, Luxembourg and Italy are also independently investigating Amazon but EU spokeswoman Lucia Caudet said the national probes did not overlap with the EU investigation.
Amazon said it would cooperate with the EU authorities, according to media reports.