Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s top antitrust official, said on Tuesday that an investigation found that Amazon may have illegally abused its dominant position as a marketplace service provider in Germany and France, the company’s biggest markets in the European Union.
Amazon used non-public seller data to feed into its own retail algorithms to decide what new products to launch and the price of each new offer, Vestager said. “We do not take issue with the success of Amazon or its size, our concern is the very specific business conduct that appears to distort competition,” she added.
The European Commission said in July last year that it had opened a formal investigation into Amazon (AMZN) to probe its dual role as marketplace and retailer. The Commission has been looking into agreements between Amazon and independent retailers, and whether data from sellers is being unfairly used by the e-commerce giant, which also sells its own products.
The Commission said on Tuesday that its preliminary view is that Amazon has breached EU antitrust rules, but that its investigation must be completed before any penalties are imposed.
How big tech companies use data and deal with their smaller rivals has become a major focus for regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. The US Department of Justice last month accused Google of stifling competition to maintain its powerful position in the marketplace for online search and search advertising.
The European Union has emerged as a key battleground for tech because of its tough rules on data protection, hate speech, taxation and competition issues. EU officials have a track record of hitting US tech companies such as Google (GOOGL) with fines worth billions and Amazon may suffer the same fate.
— This is a developing story and will be updated.
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