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EU: Vestager opens probe into Amazon

 |  September 19, 2018

Amazon’s business model is under the spotlight in Europe after the EU’s antitrust watchdog launched a preliminary investigation into how the platform uses data about merchants, reported the Wall Street Journal.

The informal probe concerns the e-commerce group’s dual role as a competitor while simultaneously acting as host to third-party merchants, who sell goods on Amazon’s websites, Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner, said on Wednesday, September 19.

“The question here is about the data,” Ms. Vestager said, adding that the investigation was in its “very early days” and that her office has “no conclusions” about whether to open a formal probe.

The Amazon marketplace investigation follows up on concerns raised by retailers in the course of an e-commerce sector inquiry in 2017 about so-called “dual-role” platforms, reported the Journal. A typical example for such a dual-role platform is Amazon, which, on the same website, offers marketplace services to third-party sellers and sells products as an online retailer in direct competition with those third-party sellers.

Amazon might thereby gain access to competitively sensitive information about competitors’ products that it could use to boost its own retail activities at the expense of third-party sellers on its marketplace. The purpose of the preliminary investigation is to verify whether these concerns have any merit and need to be followed up.

Full Content: Wall Street Journal

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