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EU Charges on Amazon over Misuse of Seller Data

The European Commission has charged Amazon with breaking competition rules, saying that the retailer has misused its position to compete against third-party businesses using its platform.

At the same time, regulators have opened a second investigation into favorable treatment around the “Buy Box” and the “Prime Label.” Officials suspect that independent sellers that use Amazon’s own logistics network are able to use features that those with their own logistics networks do not. 

In a statement, the EU's Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said it was vital that platforms with "market power" such as Amazon did not "distort competition".

"Data on the activity of third party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers," she added.

"With e-commerce booming, and Amazon being the leading e-commerce platform, a fair and undistorted access to consumers online is important for all sellers."

It has been investigating Amazon since July last year, following complaints from traders.

Amazon faces a potential fine as high as 10% of its global turnover if it is found guilty of breaching competition law - about £15bn ($19bn).

Amazon rejected the charges, saying it offered consumers more not less choice. In a statement Amazon insisted that - far from being anti-competitive - its private-label products were good for customers and offered more choice.

"Amazon represents less than 1% of the global retail market, and there are larger retailers in every country in which we operate," it said.

"No company cares more about small businesses or has done more to support them over the past two decades than Amazon."

It also pointed out that there are more than 150,000 European businesses selling through its online marketplace.

This isn’t the first time that Vestager has led an assault against Amazon, and three years ago charged the company with receiving state aid from Luxembourg. 

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