Media The Verge, citing the Wall Street Journal, reported that the European Union will file a formal antitrust charge against Amazon’s use of third-party seller data. The charges, which could be filed as soon as next week, will accuse Amazon of using data collected from sellers in its markets to compete with sellers, according to reports.
It is expected to take another year for the commission to formally decide whether Amazon is breaking the law after the EU charges, the Wall Street Journal reported. Although the company can challenge the decision in court, it could end up being fined up to 10 per cent of global annual revenue.
The EU investigation into the practice is thought to date back nearly two years. As early as September 2018, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said the EU had been collecting information about Amazon’s practices with third-party sellers, but stressed at the time that a formal investigation had not yet been launched. Last year, the European Union launched a formal antitrust investigation into the agreement between Amazon and its market sellers and how Amazon used data to choose which retailer to link to using the “buy box” on its website.
This will not be the first time Amazon has been accused of using its position as a market operator to profit for itself as a seller in the market. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon employees would use sales data from independent marketplace sellers to help develop Amazon’s own-brand products. It is reported that this has happened despite the company’s rules prohibiting this.
Amazon has promised an internal investigation, but the report has again drawn the attention of U.S. lawmakers. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the company asking for clarification of its data policy, as it had previously said it would not use personal seller data to compete directly with them on its platform. Senator Josh Hawley has called for an antitrust investigation into the company.
Amazon declined to comment to The Verge on the report.