Amazon Settles EU Antitrust Probes

Two separate reports claim that Amazon has settled its two EU antitrust cases and agreed to behavioral changes that will prevent future abuses. The settlement will be announced on December 20.

The settlement will require Amazon to give rival sellers of products equal access to its dominant online storefront as its own, Amazon-branded products. It will prevent Amazon from using the private data it acquires about third-party sellers to decide which products to copy and sell under the Amazon brand. And it lets independent sellers participate in Amazon’s Prime program without being forced to use Amazon’s logistics business. (That latter change has echoes of the in-app purchase probes that both Apple and Google face.)

Amazon will not pay a financial penalty, but it avoids several years of litigation, billions of dollars in legal costs, and annual fines of up to 10 percent of its global revenues.

The New York Times, which is one of the high-profile sources for this information, notes that the Amazon settlement could serve as a preview of similar upcoming changes at Apple, Google, and Meta, each of which faces various EU investigations of their own. The publication cites three people with knowledge of the deal.

News of the settlement was first reported by the Financial Times, which said that the final deal closely follows the language of a draft proposal from this past summer.

According to the reports, the agreement covers only the EU, of course, though Amazon could proactively choose to avoid antitrust entanglements in the US and elsewhere by adopting it globally; California, for example, has already sued Amazon for the same reasons. The EU agreement will be in effect for five years.

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