EU says Amazon breached antitrust rules; opens second investigation


This illustration picture taken on July 24, 2019 in Paris shows the logo of the US online store application Amazon on the screen of a tablet.

MARTIN BUREAU | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The European Commission said Tuesday that Amazon breached European antitrust rules by using independent sellers’ data for its own benefit.

It has also announced a second formal investigation into the company’s e-commerce processes.

In a statement, the Commission said Amazon was using the data of third-party sellers – such as order numbers, revenues and number of visitors – to inform its strategic business decisions, like reducing the price of products.

The issue arises because of Amazon’s dual role which sees it both selling products itself, and acting as a platform for independent – sometimes rival – sellers.

“Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, said in the statement.

The decision comes after the Commission, which is the executive arm of the European Union, launched a probe into the online retailer in July 2019 on the back of concerns over anti-competitive behavior.

Amazon said it disagreed with the Commission’s assertions and “will continue to make every effort to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the facts.” It said that it represents less than 1% of the global retail market.

“No company cares more about small businesses or has done more to support them over the past two decades than Amazon,” the e-commerce giant said.

The Commission’s second antitrust investigation will be into possible preferential treatment of Amazon’s own retail business over marketplace sellers that use its logistics and delivery services (known as “fulfilment by Amazon” sellers).

The company will have now the chance to examine the Commission’s conclusions and reply in writing or via an oral hearing.

This is a breaking news story and it is being updated.



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