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EU launches probe into Amazon's use of third-party sellers data

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the investigation would be completed as a matter of priority.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Hadrian

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has launched an investigation into online retailer Amazon, to see whether it misuses the merchant data hosted on its website.

“I have… decided to take a very close look at Amazon’s business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer (and) to assess its compliance with EU competition rules,” the EU’s antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

At the heart of the case is Amazon’s service to third-party sellers who use the world’s biggest online retailer to access customers and broaden their reach.

In providing this service, Amazon “continuously collects data about the activity on its platform”, the commission said.

The European Commission said that, based on its preliminary findings, Amazon “appears to use competitively sensitive information about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions in the marketplace”.

The investigation will look at the standard agreements between Amazon and sellers on its marketplace, and how data plays a role in the selection of prominently displayed items for sale on its website.

The investigation has no time limit, but will be completed as a matter of priority, it added.

“If proven, the practices under investigation may breach EU competition rules on anticompetitive agreements between companies (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)) and/or on the abuse of a dominant position (Articles 102 TFEU),” it concluded.

In an email to AFP, Amazon said: “We will cooperate fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.”

With reporting from AFP

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Sean Murray

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