The European Commission is turning its regulatory attention to Amazon after it had harangued other American giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook – three out of four members of the so-called ‘GAFA Group’. The executive suspects that Amazon is using the data it collects from third-party vendors on its own platform to gain a commercial advantage. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, confirmed that an investigation had been initiated to determine whether the company is abusing its market power.
Commissioner Vestager said that Amazon might be using the data it collects to promote its own products and services, thus gaining a competitive advantage. Brussels wonders whether Amazon exploits the data collected “to perform its own calculations” and “to see what kind of deals people want and what makes them buy a particular product”. “We are gathering information on the matter and, for this purpose, we have sent questionnaires to market participants in order to understand the problem in its entirety,” Ms. Vestager commented.
The online company has yet to comment on the announcement. The White House is also interested in Amazon, as US President Donald Trump has persistently opposed “anti-competitive practices” and promised “problems” for the company. The EU’s investigation is at very early stages and could take a number of years to finish. It could also conclude either way – as a shot in the dark or as a hefty fine. An example of the former has happened quite recently when the case with McDonalds’s tax optimization practices was eventually declared legal.