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EU: Gov proposes regulation of online marketplaces

 |  October 15, 2018

European Union lawmakers have proposed new regulations aimed at stopping an online marketplace such as Amazon from using data from merchants’ product sales to boost sales of their own branded products.

Reuters reported that in April the EU laid out draft rules to stop what they claimed was an unfair marketplace where online merchants had access to the merchant data from products that sold on their platform, putting them at an advantage when they are hawking their own branded products. According to Reuters, the rules target app stores, search engines, eCommerce sites, and hotel booking websites. Lawmakers in the European Parliament have to approve the legislation. They are facing pressure to project a consumer-friendly face ahead of elections in May, noted the report. They, as a result of that, have included around 680 amendments to the rules since April, reported Reuters.

Among the proposals getting attention is one from Danish center-left lawmaker Christel Schaldemose, the lead parliament negotiator. According to the report, she proposed setting up a so-called Chinese wall between the units. She wants her committee to vote on the draft proposal on December 6, noted Reuters. In her amendment, she pointed to EU regulators’ antitrust investigations into the online merchants’ dual role of marketplace merchant and rival. “To ensure fairness, the provider of the online intermediation service should not be allowed to disclose the data generated by the transactions of a business user to third parties for commercial purposes, including within their own corporate structure, without the consent of the business user,” the draft stated, according to Reuters. The report noted that lawmakers want rules to also cover the voice assistants, including Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant.

Last month European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she was collecting information to see if Amazon uses merchants’ data in such a way that it hurts competition. She can impose fines while Schaldemose’s proposal would apply to all companies, noted the report.

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