The European Union (EU) has launched an initial investigation into Amazon’s way of managing data it collects from the merchants that use its service. The goal of the probe is to find out whether or not the American online retail giant has violated antitrust regulations in the region.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said during a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday that while the investigation is in its initial stage, that does not constitute a formal probe.
Vestager said during the conference:
“We are gathering information on the issue and we have sent quite a number of questionnaires to market participants in order to understand this issue in full. These are very early days and we have no conclusions, we haven't formally opened a case. We are trying to make sure that we sort of get the full picture because we saw it in our own sector inquiry and this is also what a lot of people are talking about by now, so we do the follow-up."
This is not the first time, though, that the EU has pursued Amazon over its business practices. In 2015, the online retail giant was subject of an EU probe over its e-book deals and how it partners with publishers.
Concerning the new investigation, Vestager said the question is whether Amazon uses the data it gets from third-party vendors to do its "own calculations" and determine what consumers want to buy and what pushes them to make such purchases. The EU has the authority to fine companies as much as 10% of their annual worldwide turnover for breaching the region's antitrust regulations.