The European Commission formally accused Amazon of misusing the data of third-party merchants on its platform to gain a competitive advantage for its own products. The new antitrust case marks the latest salvo by European regulators against the growing might of U.S. tech companies.
“We must ensure that dual role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition,” said EC executive vice president Margrethe Vestager in a statement. “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. The conditions of competition on the Amazon platform must also be fair.”
The case comes amid growing concern across Europe about the expansion of Amazon’s influence amid a pandemic that has forced many local physical retailers to remain closed. While the investigation was previously announced two years ago, regulators here are pushing even harder to ensure some kind of level playing field among all ecommerce players.
We reached the preliminary conclusion that @amazon illegally has abused its dominant position as a marketplace service provider in DE & FR. @amazon may have used sensitive data big scale to compete against smaller retailers. Now for @amazon to respond. @EU_Competition
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) November 10, 2020
According to the statement released by regulators, the concern centers on Amazon’s role as a platform that enables third-party vendors to sell their goods while at the same time selling competing products made by Amazon. Regulators accused Amazon of abusing the data it collects on those third-party sales in order to boost its own offerings.
“Its rules should not artificially favor Amazon’s own retail offers or advantage the offers of retailers using Amazon’s logistics and delivery services,” Vestager said in her statement. “With ecommerce booming and Amazon being the leading ecommerce platform, a fair and undistorted access to consumers online is important for all sellers.”
Amazon has not yet issued a statement on the latest news.
The case will likely take years to resolve. Still, it comes as the EC is pursuing multiple antitrust cases against Google and Apple. Under Vestager’s leadership, the EC has carved out a reputation as being tougher on big tech companies than U.S. regulators. Though that may be shifting with the recent filing of an antitrust cased filed against Google by the U.S. Department of Justice.
VentureBeat has reached out to Amazon for comment and will continue to update this story.
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