EU nearing Amazon antitrust probe

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Amazon is facing a potential formal investigation by the European Union’s competition division.

According to soruces speaking to Bloomberg, the EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager was tipped off that Amazon may be using its sales data to promote its own shops on the Marketplace platform, consequently putting smaller shops at a disadvantage.

If the preliminary investigation bears fruit, Amazon may be looking at a full-blown EU Commission investigation, possibly a huge fine, and an order to change the way it operates in the Union.

“If powerful platforms are found to use data they amass to get an edge over their competitors, both consumers and the market bear the cost,” said Johannes Kleis of BEUC, the European consumer organization in Brussels.

So far, there has been no comment from either side.

Bloomberg says that this is the first time the EU has ‘directly targeted’ Amazon’s online retail business model, but it’s not the first time the regulator has been probing into Amazon’s business. Both tax and e-book investigations have already been conducted.

Amazon is not the first, nor the only company whose business model has found itself in the EU commission’s crosshairs. Google has gone through similar processes multiple times. The company has been fined every year, for the past three years, accumulating up to $9.2 billion in fines.

Apple is currently facing multiple complaints from both Spotify and Facebook, because of the way it handles app data.