Amazon will face a major investigation by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in the next few days, according to reports.
The fact that an investigation is happening is not necessarily surprising, as Vestager had already started a preliminary probe into the eCommerce giant back in September. Since then, it has been expected that the probe would either widen formally or not.
The investigation centered on the methods that Amazon uses on data from third-party merchants using the platform. Vestager was mainly trying to figure out how Amazon operates with smaller companies, and whether it gives itself an advantage over them.
“They host a lot of little guys, and at the same time, they’re a big guy in the same market,” Vestager said. “So how do they treat the data that they get from the little guy? Does that give them an advantage that cannot be matched?”
Vestager has been very active in going after large tech companies like Amazon and Apple during her tenure. She’s handed Google a total of around $9.5 billion in fines since 2017 and also gone after Apple and Facebook over antitrust and data protection issues.
“If powerful platforms are found to use data they amass to get an edge over their competitors, both consumers and the market bear the cost,” Johannes Kleis of BEUC, the European consumer organization in Brussels, told Bloomberg.
There are also plans for Vestager’s office to levy a billion dollar fine at Qualcomm for trying to stop rivals from working with Apple. The chipmaker allegedly underpriced chips to squeeze out a competitor, and it’s been under investigation at various times since 2005.
Vestager’s term is up this year, and many analysts say she will remain a powerful player on the world stage. There is talk of her running for a higher office or even serving another term as chief.
“It would be quite extraordinary if I could [stay],” she said during an event at SXSW. “In my experience you never get something if you don’t ask for it, not even a no. So I have said I would be more than happy to have another mandate as competition commissioner.”