Amazon Agrees to EU Antitrust Truce in Marketplace Data Probe
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Amazon.com Inc. settled European Union antitrust investigations over how the U.S. ecommerce giant allegedly abused rivals’ sales data to unfairly favor its own products and squeeze out other traders on its platform.
The European Commission said Dec. 20 it accepted a number of proposals from Amazon, including a vow to stop using nonpublic data on independent sellers on its marketplace for its competing retail business.
Amazon also pledged to address concerns about the way its Buy Box for showcasing specific offers and Prime unduly favored its own retail business, as well as marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services. The commitments include a promise to display a second Buy Box, immediately underneath the first one.
“Today’s decision sets the rules that Amazon will need to play by in the future instead of Amazon determining these rules for all players on its platform,” EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters in Brussels. “With these new rules, competing independent retailers, carriers and European customers will have more opportunities and choice.”
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The settlement is the latest round in a long-running Europe-wide crackdown on the market power of tech firms such as Google, Apple Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc. that’s led to multiple probes, fines and beefed-up laws. While the deal takes off some of the regulatory pressure Amazon has been facing over accusations it has become too dominant a force in European ecommerce, the tech company continues to be subject to scrutiny from Germany’s Federal Cartel Office and the U.K.’s competition watchdog.
Seattle-based Amazon said that despite the settlement, it continues to “disagree with several of the preliminary conclusions” the EU’s antitrust arm made. It said it has “engaged constructively to ensure that we can continue to serve customers across Europe and support the 225,000 European small and medium-sized businesses selling through our stores.”
Amazon shares were little changed at $84.97 at 9:42 a.m. in New York, while the Russell 3000 Index Diversified Retailers Subsector declined.
Vestager said the second Buy Box will give more visibility to independent sellers and will offer consumers “a greater variety of offers.” The EU will monitor how this will work and will be able to request “adjustments to the presentation” if it doesn’t attract consumers enough, she said.
Amazon will have to implement its commitments by June 2023. The commission said that a violation of the agreed deal could then result in a fine of up to 10% of the company’s worldwide sales, without the EU regulator having to prove an infringement of antitrust rules — or a periodic penalty payment of 5% per day of Amazon’s daily revenue for every day of non-compliance.
Amazon ranks No. 19 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.
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