The EU started looking into Amazon in 2018 and has been focusing on its dual role as a marketplace and retailer.
What is Amazon accused of doing?.
The European Commission has been investigating Amazon's dual role - as a marketplace for merchants and also a rival seller - since July a year ago, triggered by complaints from traders about the company's practices. The company is on track for more than $370 billion in revenue this year, up from $280 billion last year, based on its results so far and the low end of its financial guidance.
The Wall Street Journal reported in June this year that the EU was planning formal antitrust charges against Amazon, and that an European Commission case team had circulated a draft of the charge sheet, citing people familiar with the matter. Use of such data unfairly benefits Amazon, the EC says, which at the same time hosts one of the largest third-party platforms for sellers, while also competing against them on a number of fronts, including selling identical products or selling its own Amazon-branded competing products.
Vestager also said the company's strategy "marginalizes third-party sellers".
Vestager explained, "Amazon has a dual role as a platform".
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"Our concern is that Amazon can avoid some of those risks by using the data it has access to", she told reporters at a briefing in Brussels.
The charges are the latest example of how watchdogs around the world, led by Europe, are grappling with the challenges of regulating Big Tech, companies that have achieved unprecedented dominance in their fields and command vast troves of user data.
Now, Amazon has said that using third-party seller data in this manner is against its own policies and affirmed that position in Congress. Amazon has also said that the practice of producing "private label" goods is used by every major retailer, and isn't a threat to the independent brands they sell.
The second investigation focuses on the so-called "buy box", a prominent place on the Amazon site for which sellers can bid. If Amazon or certain sellers receive preferential treatment, this could also constitute an abuse of the company's dominant position.
European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
"We disagree with the preliminary assertions of the European Commission and will continue to make every effort to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the facts", the company said in a statement, adding that it represents less than 1 per cent of the global retail market and that there are bigger retailers in every country where it operates.
The company has also fought this battle over market definition with US legislators and regulators, who have sought to define retail more narrowly, allowing them to treat the company as a dominant player for purposes of antitrust oversight.