Amazon Seals Antitrust Deal With EU Regulator

Online retail giant Amazon on Tuesday reached a settlement with European Union antitrust regulators over how it uses sales data from rivals who use its platform, and whether it unfairly favours its own products on its service.

The European Commission accepted revised proposals from Amazon, which agreed not to use sellers’ data for its own competing retail business and private-label products.

The second case involved allegations that Amazon unfairly favoured its own products in the “buy box” that generates most of its sales.

The Commission accepted Amazon’s offer to display a second prominent box for a rival product if it differs substantially in price and delivery options from the item in the first box.

Image credit: European Commission

‘Non-discriminatory access’

The Commission said in a statement that it had found that “Amazon’s final commitments will ensure that Amazon does not use marketplace seller data for its own retail operations and that it grants non-discriminatory access to Buy Box and Prime”.

Amazon said it was “pleased” to have addressed the Commission’s concerns.

But it added that it continued to “disagree with several of the preliminary conclusions” the EC had arrived at.

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”.

Fine threat

The provisions are due to remain in force for seven years in relation to the Prime subscription service and the display of the second Buy Box and five years for the other commitments.

The deal allows Amazon to avoid a fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

The Commision said Amazon could face a similar fine if it breaches the commitments, without the regulator having to prove an infringement of antitrust rules, or a periodic penalty payment of 5 percent per day of Amazon’s daily revenues for every day of non-compliance.

Amazon faces continuing probes from Germany’s Federal Cartel Office and the UK’s competition regulator, as the new EU rules applying to the biggest e-commerce and digital players are due to come into force next year.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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