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    European Commission opens investigation on Amazon

    Credit: pixabayThe European Commission announced on Wednesday that it has opened a formal antitrust investigation to determine whether Amazon’s use of sensitive data from independent retailers that sell on its marketplace breaches EU competition rules.

    The European Commission announced on Wednesday that it has opened a formal antitrust investigation to determine whether Amazon’s use of sensitive data from independent retailers that sell on its marketplace breaches EU competition rules.

    European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said she had decided to take a close look at Amazon’s double role as a retailer that sells goods on its Internet site and a marketplace on which independent merchants can sell their goods directly to consumers.

    Based on the Commission’s preliminary fact-finding, Amazon, which continuously collects data on activities conducted on its platform, appears to use sensitive information on vendors, their products and their transactions on its Marketplace, the EU executive body noted in a press release.

    The Commission will thus examine whether Amazon’s use of this data affects competition. It will also look at the role of such data in the selection of “Buy Box” winners, and the potential use by Amazon of competitivity-sensitive data obtained from Marketplace vendors.

    Amazon’s “Buy Box” enables customers to add articles from a specific retailer directly to their shopping baskets. Winning a “Buy Box” seems essential for Marketplace vendors since the vast majority of transactions are done through that function.

    This is the third time that Amazon has come under the scrutiny of the Commission. The executive body had already forced Luxemburg to recover 250 million euros from the online marketing giant because of irregularities in a 2003 fiscal agreement. An appeal in that case is still pending. Then, in 2016, Amazon avoided paying a fine in a competition-related case that had to do with e-books.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times