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EU Commission investigates Amazon over independent seller data use

Amazon has found itself at the centre of an investigation led by the European Commission into the online giant’s use of sensitive data from independent retailers that use its marketplace to sell.

The Commission has stated that Amazon, as both a product seller and a marketplace, appears to be using competitively sensitive information by continuously collecting data from indie retailers that use its platform.

The online behemoth has been a major headache for many brick and mortar and online toy retailers for the past number of years. Many in that time have resided to trading on Amazon, owing to its size and reach. 

It is now the subject of investigation over a number of points that include:

  • Standard agreements between Amazon and marketplace sellers that allow Amazon’s retail business to analyse and use third-party seller data. The Commission will look at how Amazon’s use of data affects competition.
  • The role of data in the selection of the winners of the ‘buy box’ and the impact of Amazon’s potential use of competitively sensitive marketplace seller information on that selection.

Should the Commission find these allegations to be true, Amazon could be found guilty of breaching European Union competition rules on antitrust agreements between companies, or abusing a dominant market position.

“European consumers are increasingly shopping online,” said Margrethe Vestager, the competition commisioner. 

“Ecommerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour.”

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