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The European Commission Isn't Happy With Amazon

Image via Guillaume Périgois on Unsplash

Amazon is no stranger to facing pressure from regulators and yesterday brought more of the same.

The European Commission informed Amazon that it had, in its view, breached European Union antitrust laws by using its position to gain an unfair advantage over competitors. The Commission believes Amazon is using non-public third-party seller data to unfairly compete with those third party sellers.

"The Commission's preliminary view, outlined in its Statement of Objections, is that the use of non-public marketplace seller data allows Amazon to avoid the normal risks of retail competition and to leverage its dominance in the market for the provision of marketplace services in France and Germany- the biggest markets for Amazon in the EU," the Commission said in a statement.

In the words of Margrethe Vestager, the Commission's executive vice president in charge of competition, the case is about big data.

"Our concerns are not only about the insights Amazon Retail has into the sensitive business data of one particular seller," Vestager said. "Rather, they are about the insights that Amazon Retail has about the accumulated business data of more than 800,000 active sellers in the EU, covering more than a billion different products. In other words, the case is about big data."

The Commission also opened a second probe into whether Amazon gives preferential treatment to marketplace sellers that use the company's logistics and delivery services.

Amazon could be on the hook for a fine of 10% of its global revenues if found guilty of violating competition laws. Such a fine could amount to nearly $30 billion based on Amazon's latest full year sales of more than $280 billion.

Amazon disputed the Commission's allegations and said it would "continue to make every effort to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the facts."

"No company cares more about small businesses or has done more to support them over the past two decades than Amazon," Amazon said. "There are more than 150,000 European businesses selling through our stores that generate tens of billions of Euros in revenues annually and have created hundreds of thousands of jobs."

As Amazon continues to grow in dominance so too does the pressure it faces from regulators across the world.

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