The European Commission filed antitrust charges against e-commerce retail giant Amazon on Tuesday over alleged misuse of data. If fined, Amazon could have to pay up to 10% of its annual global revenue, which amounts to billions of dollars.
The Commission has taken issue with Amazon allegedly relying on non-public business data of independent sellers who sell on its marketplace, to the benefit of Amazon’s own retail business, which directly competes with them.
The Commission has also opened a second antitrust investigation into the possible preferential treatment of Amazon’s own retail offers and those of marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services.
The Commission’s executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said: “We must ensure that dual role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition. Data on the activity of third party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers.
“The conditions of competition on the Amazon platform must also be fair. Its rules should not artificially favor Amazon’s own retail offers or advantage the offers of retailers using Amazon’s logistics and delivery services. With e-commerce booming, and Amazon being the leading e-commerce platform, a fair and undistorted access to consumers online is important for all sellers.”
Amazon has rejected the charges. “We disagree with the preliminary assertions of the European Commission and will continue to make every effort to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the facts,” Amazon said in a statement.
Amazon has the option of responding to the charges in writing and via an oral hearing.
This investigation will cover the European Economic Area, with the exception of Italy. The Italian Competition Authority is already investigating similar concerns from last year. The European Commission will work in cooperation with Italian officials.