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Amazon Faces EU Antitrust Charges Over Seller Data

Formal antitrust charges against Amazon will be announced by EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager over how the eCommerce giant handles data from the merchants on its platform, according to a Financial Times (FT) report citing sources.

At issue is Amazon’s parallel responsibility to third-party vendors as an eCommerce ecosystem, and to itself as a rival on the platform with competing merchandise, the sources told FT. 

Part of an investigation launched in 2018, the updated charge sheet questions if Amazon abused its position to use merchants’ collected data against them.

Amazon didn’t comment to FT and has in the past downplayed antitrust concerns, pointing to the many retailers with private label goods. 

In the U.S. Amazon and other big tech firms are under scrutiny for alleged antitrust violations by the House Judiciary Committee, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

Vestager, now in her second term, has a reputation of being aggressive in going after companies or sectors suspected of unfair or manipulative practices that stifle competition, avoid taxes or mistreat customers. 

She has directed fines against Google in excess of €8 billion in three individual anti-competition cases. Apple faced €13 billion in back taxes to Ireland. Both companies have appealed.

PYMNTS most recent big tech compliance tracker indicates that investigations into Amazon’s business practices as well as other big tech firms have been ongoing in the EU and the U.S. The European Commission is expected to introduce new digital rules that could upend the current business models.

Japan recently announced its plans to coordinate investigations with both Europe and the U.S. to develop new, stricter regulations that govern big tech. In the September PYMNTS big tech compliance tracker tracker, Facebook considered pulling out of the EU over regulations. 

Illinois residents also have a $650 million lawsuit against Facebook. A settlement could give residents with Facebook accounts payouts of $200 to $400.

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