Amazon’s use of marketplace data breaks competition law, EU charges

A sign outside an Amazon warehouse in Germany.

Enlarge / A sign outside an Amazon warehouse in Germany. (credit: Thorsten Wagner | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Europe’s top competition regulator filed charges today against Amazon, alleging that the company has abused its size, position, and access to data to gain an unfair advantage over the competition.

The European Commission’s statement of objections against Amazon is centered on the firm’s “dual role” in e-commerce, where it is both a retailer and also a platform for third-party retailers. As a platform, Amazon has access to proprietary data about all those other merchants’ online business, which it then gathers and uses anticompetitively to get a leg up in its own retail operations, the EU alleges.

This is not just an infrequent or occasional lapse, the EC determined, finding instead that “very large quantities of non-public seller data” are available to Amazon and “flow directly into [Amazon’s] automated systems.” Amazon then allegedly uses that data to make its own determinations, “to the detriment of the other marketplace sellers.”

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