EU regulator investigates Amazon's use of data

Out-Law News | 17 Jul 2019 | 3:12 pm | 1 min. read

The way Amazon uses data it collects about retailers on its online marketplace is to be scrutinised by the European Commission.

The EU's competition regulator announced that it has opened a formal investigation into Amazon to determine whether the company's use of data from retailers is in line with competition rules. Those rules generally prohibit the use of anti-competitive agreements and require businesses in a dominant market position not to abuse their position of dominance.

Amazon said it will "cooperate fully" with the investigation "and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow".

The Commission's interest in Amazon's data practices stems from the dual role the company performs, both as an online retailer in its own right, selling products via its website, and as a marketplace for other retailers.

The Commission said Amazon "continuously collects data about the activity on its platform" and "appears to use competitively sensitive information – about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace".

The regulator's investigation will explore Amazon's use of data further through an examination of the standard agreements in place between Amazon and marketplace sellers, as well as the role data plays in selecting retailers to feature in Amazon's 'buy box' – a feature that facilitates customer sales with specific retailers.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "European consumers are increasingly shopping online. 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. I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon's business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules."