Amazon faces antitrust charges in EU over use of data

The EU has been investigating Amazon's dual role as both marketplace and retailer

AMAZON.COM-RESULTS/ Representational image | Reuters

European Union regulators have filed antitrust charges against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using data to gain an unfair advantage over merchants using its platform.

The EU's executive commission, the bloc's top antitrust enforcer, said Tuesday that the charges have been sent to the company.

The commission said it takes issue with Amazon's “systematic use of non-public business data to avoid the normal risks of competition and to leverage its dominance" for e-commerce services in France and Germany, the company's two biggest markets in the EU.

"The European Commission has informed Amazon of its preliminary view that it has breached EU antitrust rules by distorting competition in online retail markets. The Commission takes issue with Amazon systematically relying on non-public business data of independent sellers who sell on its marketplace, to the benefit of Amazon's own retail business, which directly competes with those third party sellers," the European Union Commission said in a statement. 

“We must ensure that dual role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition,” Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s vice president for digital issues, said in a statement, as reported by the New York Times. “Data on the activity of third party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it act as a competitor to these sellers.”

The EU started looking into Amazon in 2018 and has been focusing on its dual role as a marketplace and retailer. Since Amazon also sells its own brand of products on the same platform as its competitors, regulators worry the company may use third-party data harvested from its competitors to boost its own product sales.

A Wall Street Journal report in April had found that Amazon employees used data from other sellers to develop competing products—in contrast to the company’s statement before Congress that when it makes and sells its own products, it does not use information collected from propriety third-party sellers.

The EU Commission also said it was separately investigating Amazon policies that could artificially favour its own products as well as products of companies that use Amazon’s logistics services.  

With inputs from PTI

📣 The Week is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TheWeekmagazine) and stay updated with the latest headlines