EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager eyes Amazon over usage of market sensitive merchant data

According to a source familiar with the matter at hand, online retail giant is set to face antitrust charges from the European Commission over its usage of merchant data, said EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The European Commission has been investigating the online retailer’s dual role, of that of a marketplace for merchants as well as that of a rival seller, since July 2019. The probe was triggered following complaints from some traders about Amazon’s practices.

The European Commission’s probe also focuses on how Amazon uses sensitive merchant data to select winners for its “buy box”, a feature which allows customers to add items from a specific retailer directly into their shopping cart.

Vestager is set to send a statement to Amazon.com outlining her charges, said a source while adding that she has scheduled a 1230 CET (1130 GMT) news conference, for which a subject is yet to be specified.

The European Commission declined to comment.

Amazon has the option to ask for a closed door hearing to defend itself.

A decision by the European Commission on the matter is likely to take shape next year.

The charges come at a time when the coronavirus-induced COVID-19 pandemic has amplified Amazon’s role in the global economy, with a significant number of consumers opting to shop online.

Vestager has a reputation of being one of the world’s toughest antitrust regulators. Under her watch, the EU has imposed large fines on Alphabet’s Google and other companies.

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