World News – US – Amazon accused of antitrust violations by European regulators


European Commission Vice President Margaret Westager said Amazon was unfairly using data to alienate smaller competitors.

LONDON – European Union regulators filed antitrust charges against Amazon on Tuesday, saying the online retail giant had violated competition laws by unfair use of its size and access to data to harm the small merchants who depend on the company to reach customers.


The European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-nation bloc, said Amazon had misused its dual role as a retail store used by dozens of sellers, and a merchant selling their competing merchandise on the platform. Authorities have accused Amazon of collecting non-public data from sellers who use their marketplaces to discover popular products, and then copy and sell them, often at a lower price.

“We must ensure that dual-role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition,” Margaret Westager, Commission Vice President for Digital Issues, said in a statement. “Data on third-party seller activity should not be used for Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers.”

This case, which has been anticipating for months, is the latest front in a transatlantic regulatory campaign against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google as authorities in the United States and Europe take a more skeptical view of their trade practices and the dominance of the digital economy. Last month, the Department of Justice directed Antitrust charges against Google, as Apple and Facebook face investigations in Washington and Brussels.

Many in Europe will be watching to see how the Amazon announcement is being received by the incoming administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is expected to pursue policies that limit the power of the industry. The Trump administration criticized Ms. Vestager for targeting US companies like Apple, even as it launched its own investigation into Industry

In the case of Amazon, the announcement is still a preliminary Tuesday and it is just one part of the regulatory process. Amazon now has an opportunity to respond to the charges. It may take several months, or even years, before the fine and other penalties are announced. The committee can also reach a settlement. With Amazon, or the issue can be dropped

The European Commission said it has also launched a parallel investigation of Amazon policies on the « Buy Box », an important piece of real estate on the Amazon website that makes it easier for consumers to click quickly to make a purchase

The committee is examining whether Amazon gives preferential treatment to the fund to buy for its products and those of other sellers who pay for using Amazon logistics

In Brussels, Amazon gears up for a legal battle. It has hired a team of lawyers and economists, including many who in the past were promoting tougher enforcement against Google and Microsoft

The case reinforces the European Union’s role as a leading watchdog in the tech industry, although previous investigations of companies like Google have done little to reduce their power The authorities in Brussels have argued that the largest tech platforms are unfairly using their power to drive away competitors, although they are It means bundling products, charging app stores, and data storage

Mrs. Vestager has raised alarms about the role of « gatekeeper » for companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Businesses have reached this size, Lady Festager argued, that they’re essentially small economies, and they set rules and policies with little transparency that determine the fate of millions of companies. Others that have no choice but to follow

About 2 million third-party merchants around the world use Amazon to reach customers, including about 37 percent of those who rely on the company as their sole source of income, according to a US Congressional report published last month in the European Union, using about 800,000 Third-party seller Amazon, according to European Commission

Ms Westager cautions that the largest firms will only get stronger without stricter antitrust enforcement and new regulations, preventing new businesses and innovations from emerging.

Next month, the European Commission is expected to unveil a new package of laws that would represent one of the world’s most comprehensive set of regulations for the tech industry. Could include rules prohibiting self-preference for products and requiring larger companies to share data with smaller competitors.

In the case of Amazon, European authorities spent two years investigating the company’s dual role as a retailer and seller of its own merchandise Small merchants have long raised concerns that if Amazon saw a particular product sell well on its website, the company would create its own version and sell it at a lower price. Then it gives it a better place on the Amazon website

The European Commission said these concerns were supported by a review of data on more than 80 million transactions and 100 million products. Ms Vestager said it showed how Amazon used data from external vendors to determine which products to offer, where to set a price and how to manage inventory. / p>

“Amazon, using its very strong position in the e-commerce market and its dual role as a retailer and marketplace, is making it difficult for independent retailers to compete fairly,” said Agustin Rina, Director of Legal and Economic Affairs. In the European Consumer Organization, a group that has been urging regulators to act against Amazon

European Union,, Competition Law, Margrethe Vestager

World News – US – Amazon has been accused of antitrust violations by European regulators


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