EU to investigate Amazon over use of sellers’ data

The EU’s competition regulator is to investigate the use of sellers’ data by Amazon – the latest big multinational firm to face pressure over exploitation of customer information.

The world’s largest retailer has the been the subject of a call for evidence since last year into its dual role as a marketplace for merchants and as a competitor.

Independent sellers who use the platform have complained of harm caused by Amazon copies of their products.

Amazon said it would co-operate fully with the European Commission’s inquiry which is to focus on two main issues.

Vestager
Image: Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is leading the investigation

The first covers Amazon’s standard agreements with marketplace sellers and the second is its use of data in choosing winners of the “buy box”, which allows consumers to add items from a specific retailer directly into their shopping carts.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, said: “E-commerce 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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The investigation was announced shortly after the US-based company announced a deal with German regulators to overhaul its terms of service for third-party merchants.

This is not Amazon’s first brush with Ms Vestager’s department.

Two years ago, it was told to pay back taxes of €250m to Luxembourg because of illegal tax benefits.

It also settled a complaint relating to distribution deals with e-book publishers in Europe in the same year.

Amazon, Google and Facebook are among other US tech giants to have faced allegations over abuse of market power through data use.

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