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EU: Vestager closes in on Amazon investigation

 |  April 1, 2019

The European Commission is nearing a decision on its investigation into Amazon, with the European Union competition chief saying over the weekend that the Commission has gathered a lot of information on the eCommerce company.

According to a report in Seeking Alpha, EU Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager said the Commission gathered “a lot of data” in its investigation into Amazon. The report noted the EU sent out 1,500 questionnaires to businesses as part of the investigation.

The comments out of the EU’s Vestager come as industry watchers expect Facebook to pay for the social media company’s data scandals and questionable business practices. With more than 2 billion active monthly users, Facebook has been accused of spreading fake news and inflammatory content that has impacted elections in the US. In 2018, Facebook was at the center of a scandal with Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct political consulting firm, which accessed data on more than 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

Expectations are that Facebook could face a huge fine by the EU as a result of the data breaches. According to media reports during the past few months, the fine may be as high as US$1.63 billion if regulators find the company violated the bloc’s strict new data privacy law. Under its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies that fail to safeguard their users’ data could face a maximum fine of €20 million (US$23 million), or 4% of a firm’s global annual revenue for the prior year, whichever is higher.

The European Commission has been aggressive in going after companies that run afoul of GDPR, its data protection rules that have been on the books for a few months now. The Irish Data Protection Commission is in charge of making sure companies comply with the new European General Data Protection Regulation, which has been in effect since May. The Irish regulator was given the power to ensure companies are complying with the new stringent data protection law.

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