Amazon plans to settle European antitrust cases later this month • The Register

Amazon will reportedly make changes to its business practices next week to resolve two European antitrust cases.

The European Commission announced competition investigations in July 2019 and November 2020 into Amazon’s use of non-public data of independent merchants selling goods through its e-commerce platform.

The investigation focused on Amazon’s dual role as a retailer and as operator of a retail marketplace in which it participates. The Commission fears that “Amazon is using what appears to be competitively sensitive information – about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace” to gain an advantage over other market participants.

According to The New York Times and The Financial Times, Amazon has agreed to a settlement that is scheduled to be disclosed on December 20, 2022 [PDF] Proposed by Amazon in July and submitted for public comment.

Amazon will reportedly agree not to use non-public data to compete with its sellers. That means Amazon won’t be able to hack into the stats it holds privately about its merchants to undercut or outmaneuver them on the Amazon marketplace.

Sellers can participate in Amazon Prime without using Amazon’s logistics service for shipping. It also gives them equal access to valuable screen real estate, impacting product visibility and therefore sales.

One reason for the deal is believed to be Europe’s passage of the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, agreed in March and April respectively, which came into force last month. Under these new rules, which aim to protect the rights of people using digital services and encourage competition by curbing the power of online gatekeepers, Amazon could potentially be fined up to 10 percent of its annual sales be charged for rule violations.

These legislative changes have also caught the attention of other big tech companies. Apple, for example, is said to be preparing to allow third-party app stores for iOS devices next year as a result of the DMA.

In the US, lawmakers have failed to pass recently proposed legislation to encourage competition and limit self-preference by big tech companies. Efforts to contain big tech have largely taken place at the state level, such as September’s California antitrust lawsuit against Amazon and various state lawsuits against Google.

Federal agencies like the FTC have regularly attempted to take down large tech companies, but the penalties imposed have not been enough to make a real difference.

In a statement to The registryAn Amazon spokesman did not respond to our request to confirm the reported settlement, but reiterated the company’s previous reservations about the new EU rules, while reaffirming that it had been cooperating with regulators in good faith.

“While we have serious concerns that the Digital Markets Act is unfairly targeting Amazon and some other US companies, and disagree with several of the European Commission’s conclusions, we have worked constructively with the Commission to address their concerns and enhance our ability.” to serve European customers and the more than 225,000 European small and medium-sized businesses that sell through our stores,” said the Amazon spokesman.

“No company cares more about small businesses or has done more to support them in the last two decades than Amazon.” ® Amazon plans to settle European antitrust cases later this month • The Register

Rick Schindler

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