Years after it launched a probe and investigation on Amazon’s practices, the European Commission officially charged Amazon with an antitrust case on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. According to Reuters, the European Union charges Amazon with damaging retail competition over its use of big data.
In particular, the European Union alleges that the retail giant collects and uses non-public data on its own retail platform in order to gain an advantage over other sellers on the website. The EU also states that Amazon collects data via third-party retailers to launch its own products and go against the competition.
The charges against the company relate most to its activities in France and Germany, the two biggest markets in the European Union.
Apart from this, CNBC states that the Commission will look into the other processes and practices observed by the e-commerce giant. The second antitrust investigation will reportedly analyze how sellers are chosen to participate in its Amazon Prime offerings, as well as the criteria being used by the company for its buy box function.
The European Commission issued a statement on its website saying, “As a marketplace service provider, Amazon has access to non-public business data of third party sellers such as the number of ordered and shipped units of products, the sellers’ revenues on the marketplace, the number of visits to sellers’ offers, data relating to consumer claims on products, including the activated guarantees.”
As part of its investigation, Tech Crunch states the EU regulators obtained a data set covering more than 80 million transactions and over 100 million product listings.
Competition chief Margrethe Vestager, touted as one of the toughest regulators, said that the retail giant’s use of data limits the advantages and growth of third-party sellers on the online retail platform. Vestager maintained that Amazon should not make preferential treatment over its own retail offerings.
Following its probe, the European regulator found that “very large quantities of non-public seller data are available to employees of Amazon’s retail business and flow directly into the automated systems of that business, which aggregate these data and use them to calibrate Amazon’s retail offers and strategic business decisions to the detriment of the other marketplace sellers.”
A spokesperson of the e-commerce company disagreed with the assertions made by the EU, reports Reuters, saying “Amazon represents less than 1% of the global retail market, and there are larger retailers in every country in which we operate.”