Amazon Data Use Triggers EU Antitrust Charges

The EU accuses the retailer of mining data from companies selling on its platform for a competitive advantage. 

November 11, 2020

LONDON—Retailers around the world took note yesterday as the European Union (EU) leveled antitrust charges against Amazon, alleging that the online shopping giant used data from companies selling on its platform to gain a competitive advantage, the Associated Press reports.

The regulators filed the charges after a two-year investigation by the union’s antitrust regulator. The EU has long looked into technology giants for any hint of wrongdoing. For example, Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner of competition issues, handed Google antitrust fines in the neighborhood of around $10 billion. Vestager also started two antitrust investigations into Apple over the summer, while the EU’s Executive Commission also began a second Amazon investigation into whether it gives products and merchants using Amazon logistics and delivery an unfair advantage.

The EU regulators said Amazon accesses and analyses “real-time data from other vendors that sell goods on its platform to help it decide which new products of its own to launch and how to price and market them,” the newswire reports. That “appears to distort genuine competition,” Vestager said. The investigation centered on French and German companies, but Vestager declined to quote specific incidences that lead to the allegations.

“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.