European regulators will charge antitrust fees against Amazon for allegedly using third-party seller data to compete with retailers on their e-commerce platform. the Wall Street Journal reportsciting nameless people who are familiar with the case.
Amazon's review of third-party treatment has increased after a WSJ investigation. released in Aprilfound that Amazon employees used seller data when considering new private label products. An Amazon lawyer told Congress last year, "We don't use individual seller data directly to compete with them." However, the newspaper's investigation found that even aggregate data can provide insight into best-selling third-party products in many cases.
Regulators and lawmakers in the U.S. and abroad have questioned Amazon's potential conflict of interest both as a marketplace operator and as a first-party provider.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has pointed to the growth in third-party sales at Amazon as proof that the company operates a fair market. The share of third-party providers in physical gross goods sales on Amazon was 58% from 2018.
"Why did independent sellers sell so much better on Amazon than on eBay?" Bezos wrote in its 2019 letter to shareholders: “And why could independent sellers grow so much faster than Amazon's highly organized first-party sales organization? There is no answer, but we know an extremely important part of the answer: we have helped independent sellers stand up to our first-party business by investing in the best sales tools we can imagine and build. "
The WSJ reports that the formal statement of objections to Amazon could come from the European Commission next or a week later.
The report points to a March speech by Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of Competition and Digital Policy for the European Commission, and points out that the EU's experience of investigating and tracking companies like Google and Alphabet in the past has influenced their approach and the search for new enforcement powers have been shaped by changes in business practice.
"We may still be dealing with digital platforms that have become so dominant that they are actually private regulators and have the authority to set the rules for markets that depend on those platforms," said Vestager. after prepared remarks back then.
“That doesn't have to do any further harm to competition if they use this de facto regulatory power in such a way that fair competition can thrive. But we know from experience … that these big platforms don't always do that, ”said Vestager. “In fact, our competitive enforcement has taught us a lot about the behavior of dominant platforms that can prevent the markets they regulate from working properly. And we can use that experience to draft regulations that clearly define what these platforms can do with their performance – and what they can't. "
Amazon has not yet commented on an upcoming cartel fees report.