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Amazon investigated by EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager



Margrethe Vestager
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

  • EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday
    that the EU has started a preliminary investigation into
    Amazon’s over potential antitrust violations.
  • She said concerns had been raised over how Amazon is
    using data from third-party sellers, and whether it is helping
    the company predict the “new big thing.”
  • Vestager has a track record of taking tech companies to
    task. She slapped Google with a $5 billion dollar fine in July
    for abusing the market dominance of Android.

The European Union is investigating another tech giant for
potentially shady dealings — this time it’s Amazon.

In a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday, the European
Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe
Vestager, answered a question from a journalist
about whether
the EU was looking into antitrust violations by Amazon.

She confirmed that her team has launched a preliminary
investigation into how Jeff Bezos’ company is using data from
third-party sellers on its platform. It is not yet a formal
inquiry, she added.

Explaining the thinking behind her exploratory work, Vestager

“The question here is about the data, because if you as Amazon
get the data from the smaller merchants that you host — which can
be of course completely legitimate because you can improve your
service to these smaller merchants — well, do you then also use
this data to do your own calculations? What is the new big thing,
what is it that people want, what kind of offers do they like to
receive, what makes them buy things.”

She said it remains “very early days” and the EU is gathering
information on the issue, including sending questionnaires to
Amazon third-party sellers. Copies of the questionnaire were sent
using the email address [email protected],
according to reports in Germany.

“We have no conclusions, we haven’t formally opened the case, but
we are trying to make sure that we get the full picture because
we saw it in our own sector inquiry and this is also what a lot
of people are talking about by now, so we do the follow-up,”
Vestager added.

Third-party sellers are an important part of Amazon’s income,
generating $9.7 billion of revenue in the second-quarter of 2018,
up 40% year-on-year. The company did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.

Amazon is already under pressure in the US over its market
dominance. At the end of August, US President Donald Trump hinted
that he thought Amazon, among other tech companies, could be a

“very antitrust situation,”
and news emerged in September
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is open to the possibility of
launching a probe into Silicon Valley giants

Vestager has a track record of taking tech companies to task.

She handed Google a fine of $5 billion in July
anti-competitive practices to do with its Android operating
system. She also announced in August that her team was launching
a review of smartphone chargers,
which could spell trouble for Apple

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