Now the EU is Investigating Amazon Too

Posted on September 19, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Cloud with 28 Comments

Following in the rich traditions of Microsoft, Intel, Apple, and Google, Amazon has finally found itself the subject of an EU antitrust investigation.

I’ve not found any mention of this on the European Commission website yet, but Bloomberg is reporting that the EC has launched a preliminary investigation of how Amazon gathers information on sales made by competitors on Amazon Marketplace and whether that gives it an unfair advantage when it sells to customers directly.

“The question here is about the data” that Amazon collects from smaller merchants on its site, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said during a press conference today in Brussels. “Do you then also use this data to do your own calculations, as to what is the new big thing, what is it that people want, what kind of offers do they like to receive, what makes them buy things? That has made us start a preliminary [investigation].”

In an interesting coincidence, I just talked about how Amazon’s ability to monitor customer shopping searches on its website gives it an unfair advantage on yesterday’s First Ring Daily. This capability matches Google’s ability to do so with its web search engine, and the result has been illegal behavior: Google artificially promotes its own services over those that would normally figure more prominently in the search results.

It’s not clear yet whether the EU probe will result in charges: Ms. Vestager says that the Commission is now questioning Amazon and its partners and competitors. And Amazon, of course, has been a frequent target of U.S. president He Who Shall Not Be Named, who has eloquently referred to a “very antitrust situation” regarding Amazon.

So we’ll see what happens. But Amazon, like the U.S. tech giants that had previously fallen under the cold eye of the EU, certainly needs some oversight. If only to ensure that it doesn’t abuse its market power and harm consumers and competitors alike.

 

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Now the EU is Investigating Amazon Too”

  1. RonH

    Paul is clairvoyant

  2. Michael Sorrentino

    Amazon uses information it collects on third-party sellers on customers to sell products to customers! In other news the sky is blue and water is still wet!

  3. locust infested orchard inc

    Quote by Paul Thurrott, "And Amazon, has been a frequent target of U.S. president He Who Shall Not Be Named, who had eloquently referred to a "very antitrust situation" regarding Amazon."


    Forgive my ignorance (snigger, snigger), is "He Who Shall Not Be Named" by any chance the guy who has allegedly "pubes like a yeti" and a manhood "smaller than average" but "not freakishly small" and resembling "the mushroom character in Mario Kart", and to further add insult to injury, described as "unusual", having "a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool" ?


    If so, I think I know to whom you're referring to, courtesy of despicably immoral Stephanie Clifford embarrassing lurid account of her liaison with the man with no name back in 2007.


    She details her account in her frank and salacious book aptly entitled, 'Full Disclosure', as reported globally on Tuesday, 18th September.


    It is said "set a thief to catch a thief", and so here we have a case of, set a whore to catch a philandering misogynist racist.


    I feel ever so sorry for Melania and their 12 year old son, Barron.

  4. Allen Markham

    The statement “unfair advantage”, I assume, is meant to indicate unfair to competitors who do not have the ability to accumulate as much information as Amazon; and that they are using this information to further increase their business. How and when does the use of data become an unfair advantage instead of just a fair competitive advantage?

  5. justincrawford

    Translation: The EU needs more money. Solution: Find next big company they can fine billions to pay for their incompetence.


  6. dcdevito

    Paul, since you have these unforeseen powers, on today's First Ring Daily, tell us all how the Jets will beat the Browns tonight :)

  7. jules_wombat

    Most of us in Europe, and especially in the UK would like to see Amazon pay their fair, and moral, taxes on the sales they make here. And to treat their own warehouse workforce with some respect and decent working conditions.

    Being so successful at putting brick and mortar high street stores out of business may be inevitable, but they must contribute back into society by declare their real sales values to pay appropriate due taxes against. Apple are also accused of playing dodgy on tax.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      Realistically, then, you should be talking to your government about why they keep offering Amazon (and other companies) massive tax discounts.


      If the government offers that deal, Amazon (or Apple or Alphabet(Google) or Microsoft) would be crazy to turn it down. But that's not pointing the finger at the one responsible for their tax breaks.


      It IS harder to pressure your own representatives and less fun than blaming some foreign company but it IS your own representatives who are letting you down and, in a democracy, you get to hold them actually accountable (unlike corporations where you only get a say on policy if you own a lot of their stock)


  8. florwh


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  9. bart

    Usually such charges start when competitors complain and a fair amount of investigating has already been done. So IMHO, keep popcorn at the ready

  10. wright_is

    Over the years, I've heard of a lot of niche players having their products syphoned up by Amazon and sold below cost, driving them out the market or Amazon suddenly demotes the seller's products and comes out with its own versions. I can't remember a specific instance, but it has been a recurring theme over the last decade, although never really substantiated.

  11. aionon

    Paul (if you actually read this)... I come here for technology content and insights, not your political views. Do you really want to poke in the eye of every visitor your view on the president? I happen to like President Trump and what he's been doing. I certainly respect your view of the opposite, but, do I really need to see it in your articles? Honestly, I'd feel the same if you were talking up Trump, or down someone I don't really approve of... the point is that I'm not hear to see politics, unless it's technology related to politics... and even in that case I'd like to see the facts/details, not your snide remarks about the folks.


    Thanks

    • provision l-3

      In reply to aionon:


      Reasonable people can debate if President Trump's polices are effective or not and reasonable people can debate what his accomplishments are and what he should be credited for. What is beyond reasoned debate is his personal behavior. His supporters clearly approve of his lack of civility but there is no reasonable debate that he is a behavior is civil.


      You like and support someone that habitually lobs personal insults at people he disagrees with and said this:

      "And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything"..."Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything."


      But you are bothered by Paul's bad Harry Potter joke because he is being snide about people?


      Sorry, but you can't be taken seriously with your complaint. By your own admission you are okay and approve of people that make snide comments about others and worse.




      • pargon

        In reply to provision l-3:

        Bill Clinton is a rapist and somewhere near 50+ people connected to him have mysterious deaths....but Trump throws insults, he's a horrible person!!! The snowflake comment should be below your post not Aionon's. The level of attacks on Trump is orders of magnitude higher than any other president; according to you he's not allowed to fight back. No one hated Donald Trump or said he was racist or sexist or any of that until he ran for president as a republican....which is odd, because if he was those things don't you think someone would sue him for some of those $Billions?? Yup, it's fake news.

        • provision l-3

          In reply to Pargon:

          This illustrates my point about about there being no reasoned debate about President Trump's personal behavior. You can't defend his actions on their own merit and instead have to change the subject to another person that wasn't even the subject of conversation, call me names and then depend a straw man fallacy. Former President Clinton is also a terrible person. Sadly there is room in the world for more than one terrible person.







        • AnOldAmigaUser

          In reply to Pargon:

          Fifty plus people on Infowars and Breitbart does not count as credible.

          Never voted for Clinton, did not like him, would not accept a cigar from him. That said, I never felt that when his term was over, he would not peacefully hand over power to the next duly elected President. I cannot say that of the current occupant of the oval office. I lived in NYC when Trump was becoming Trump, and he was a jerk. Everyone thought he was a jerk, a rich jerk. If you do not believe that people thought he was racist (the Central Park Five, Birtherism, redlining) or sexist (trophy wives, affairs while wife is pregnant, grab'em by the pussy), you did not read the news.

          Guys don't change; he is still a jerk, and a racist and a misogynist.

          • maethorechannen

            In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:


            I never felt that when his term was over, he would not peacefully hand over power to the next duly elected President. I cannot say that of the current occupant of the oval office


            You literally sound like Alex Jones from 2 years ago about Obama. As an outsider that's probably the best thing about the Trump presidency - everyone in America now sounds crazy.


            You could probably take almost any post on Infowars from between 2008 and 2016, swap Democrat for Republican, gay for patriot and Trump for Obama and half of the American population would believe that it's both a new article and true.

            • AnOldAmigaUser

              In reply to maethorechannen:

              The ignominy of it...being compared to Alex Jones.


              The truly awful thing is people actually believe anything he puts out. It is almost as if he tries to find a limit to gullibility and has realized it is a bottomless pit.


              That said, I will stand by my comment. My presidential memory goes back to LBJ, and I have disagreed with many policies from both sides. I could still realize, that they were acting from a sense of duty. This man worries me. He does not understand or respect democracy or the Constitution...among many things.

    • Tsang Man Fai

      In reply to aionon:


      Politics is everywhere. If we care about the future of technologies we should also pay more attention to the politics behind.

  12. Daekar

    I'm shocked it took this long. Amazon is just as scary as Google, and has expanded into a shocking number of markets.

  13. evancox10

    Vestager must be a big FRD fan

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