EU launches anti-trust probe against Amazon

The European Union would launch an anti-trust probe against Amazon for the regulator suspects that the online retailer’s policies come in conflict with competition rules. The key focus of the investigation is over two areas; to find how the company is using data of independent retailers, who sell their products of its platform and the information collected from ‘buy box’. Besides Amazon, other US tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple are also facing similar anti-competition investigation.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s antitrust commissioner, released a statement on Wednesday, which said, “we need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour. I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon’s business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules.”

She added, “The question here is about the data. If you as Amazon get the data from smaller merchants that you host … do you then also use this data to do your own calculations, as to what is the new big thing, what is it that people want, what kind of offers do they like to receive, what makes them buy things?”

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

EU competition watchdogs are tightly scrutinising the companies which have access to large pool of data for they can misappropriate the information, tweaking their policies to establish their dominance in the market, blocking competition. 

US regulators also launched a similar probe against online technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple. Earlier this month, Federal Trade Commission also opened anti-investigation against Amazon for it controls “roughly half of all online goods in the United States,” which makes it the single largest player in the e-commerce industry. Also, Amazon Web Services is the lead player in the cloud computing market, and the company is leading against the Facebook/Google online ad duopoly.

FTC has also been looking into Facebook’s privacy practices, which costed the company a fine of multi-million dollars. In the past, US Department of Justice reported undertaking investigation over the search engine giant, Google in a similar manner. DOJ is keeping a watch over Google in order to ascertain whether the company broke antitrust law in operating its online businesses.

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