The BBC has reported that EU anti-trust regulators have opened an investigation into Amazon, following a series of allegations that it has been misusing “sensitive data” gathered from the many independent retailers who sell products via its ecommerce platform.
The anti-trust commission is being headed up by Margrethe Vestager, who has promised to take “a very close look” at the allegations and Amazon’s overall business practices. Amazon’s contracts with marketplace sellers and how it uses data to allocate premium positions on pages will also come under scrutiny.
Amazon is continually harvesting data from its platform and claims that half of what it sells in the UK is from small businesses. Some retail analysts, however, have put that figure above 60 per cent for the UK market and 58 per cent for the American market. it has been estimated elsewhere that independent retailers on Amazon account for about 30% of Amazon’s total annual sales.
The Commission has already noted that Amazon appears to be using sensitive competitive information about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions for its own commercial benefit. Amazon’s compliance with EU competition rules may be called into question, due to a possible conflict of interest between its twin roles of being a shared marketplace and proprietary retailer in its own right.
An Amazon spokesperson has said the internet giant will co-operate fully with the European commission “and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.”