Amazon under EU scrutiny

A number of tech giants have been under the EU’s spotlight recently. The latest is Amazon, who are now facing investigations over potential antitrust violations. According to the competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, the EU has concerns over how Amazon is using data from third-party sellers, which may have been used to help the firm make predictions.

In a press conference, Vestager confirmed that an investigation has begun to see how Amazon is using the data it gets from third-parties. Although it was noted that this is a preliminary investigation, and not yet a formal enquiry.

She said: “The question here is about the data, because if you as Amazon get the data from the smaller merchants that you host — which can be of course completely legitimate because you can improve your service to these smaller merchants — well, do you then also use this data to do your own calculations? 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.”

She added that it’s still “early days” and the EU is currently gathering information via questionnaires, which are being sent out to third-party sellers on the site. “We have no conclusions, we haven’t formally opened the case, but we are trying to make sure that we get the full picture because we saw it in our own sector inquiry and this is also what a lot of people are talking about by now, so we do the follow-up,” Vestager added.

Third party sellers produced an estimated $9.7 billion in revenue for Amazon in the second quarter of this year, and has increased 40% year-on-year. And as the site is already under pressure in the US over its market dominance, this investigation could be a concern for them. It also follows Google’s recent $5 billion fine for abusing its market dominance on Android devices, as well as Apple’s $16 billion EU tax bill in 2016.

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