EU targets Amazon in new antitrust investigations
In the latest of several PR disasters for Amazon, the company is to be investigated by the EU over its use of data. The news comes hot on the heels of another data debacle for the company, with recent allegations suggesting that Amazon employees have been shifting customer data for cash.
As for the European authorities, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has aired concerns regarding how Amazon uses the data it collects via transactions made on its platform, particularly with regard to the rival sellers it hosts. There are suspicions that Amazon gives itself a leg-up over smaller merchants by using (initially) legitimately collected data for insight into products people want to buy.
Although Amazon touts its own line of products, it famously permits third-party sellers to shift products via its platform. Indeed, over half the items sold on Amazon were from these third-party sellers. There’s certainly a motive for the ecommerce giant to profit from the data insights of rival sellers.
This is not something that has gone unnoticed. The EU has responded by opening preliminary antitrust investigation into Amazon, a move which Vestager is billing as “early days”. She assures, however, that third-party merchants have been sent “quite a number of questionnaires” in a bid to get to the bottom of Amazon’s data usage.
This is not the first time Amazon has fallen foul of the European authorities. Back in 2017, Jeff Bezos’s online retail empire was forced to pay £221 million in back taxes to Luxembourg. It was unearthed that the ecommerce giant had benefited from a tax avoidance scheme with the pocket-sized country, landing him in hot water.
Amazon’s troubles don’t end there, either. The company has faced mounting accusations of worker mistreatment, with employees in its notorious “fulfillment centres” complaining of long hours, inadequate breaks and sub-par care.
We will be updating this story with news of the EU’s investigation into Amazon, so be sure to check back in.
Lead image: Chris Junker, used under Creative Commons