AMAZON IS the latest mega-company to face an antitrust probe by the European Union after evidence of improper use of customer data was uncovered.
The European Commission (EC), fresh from its $5bn fine doled out to Google, is looking at whether Amazon has been using data from third-party merchants that use Amazon’s site as a means to gain an unfair advantage over selling the same products first-hand.
A report from CNBC quotes Margarethe Vestager, the Governess of the EC, as saying: “These are very early days and we haven’t formally opened a case. We are trying to make sure that we get the full picture,”
Amazon’s potential for antitrust regulation isn’t restricted to Europe with calls from the US for it to be broken up continuing to echo. Even Donald Trump, best known for his role as himself in the Sandra Bullock film Two Weeks Notice, hinted that he would be open to seeking antitrust action with frequent attacks on professional clockmaker Jeff Bezos.
The idea is that by using data from those who use the Amazon platform, it can tailor its own offerings and beat down prices as it does so.
Amazon’s third-party sales have often been seen as a frontier town anyway, with fake goods and poor quality Chinese imports awash, often with unclear descriptions or suggestions that they are being shipped locally.
Amazon doesn’t control this practice – and that’s part of the problem. Some companies even use Amazon’s warehouse as a fulfilment facility without making it clear that they aren’t subject to the same quality controls as Amazon’s native stock.
As with Google, if Amazon is found to be behaving anti-competitively, The Governess can fine the company up to 10 per cent of its annual turnover, which is a lot larger than their tax bill would suggest.
Amazon is yet to comment on the matter. μ
Source : Inquirer