In another move in Europe’s crackdown on big companies, the European Union said on Wednesday that it will be investigating Amazon over its data use.
The EU will be looking into whether or not Amazon uses data from independent retailers in order to get an unfair upper hand.
While many worry about the power that massive companies hold, Europe has been taking serious action recently. These moves by the EU are similar to other recent antitrust measures which EU regulators have taken against big tech companies. It also provides a very clear contrast between how American and European lawmakers differ on the subject of reining in big tech.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, said that she’ll be taking a “close look” at Amazon’s business practices as a duel marketplace and retailer. This is because Amazon sells both its own products and the products of third parties on the same platform. This particular position gives Amazon prime access to data on these companies’ activities. In 2018, the majority of the items sold on Amazon came from third-party retailers. Amazon does collect data on all activity that takes place on their platform, but it’s unclear whether or not the company uses this data to gain an unfair competitive advantage. The EU opened a probe into the matter last year, with Vestager saying the preliminary probe shows that Amazon “Amazon appears to use competitively sensitive information – about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace.”
Amazon, for its part, has said that it “will cooperate fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.”