The commission views Amazon as having a unique “dual role as a platform” that the firm could potentially abuse: It both sells products on its own and serves as a marketplace for other sellers to market their own goods, according to the Journal, which cites unnamed sources. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
While declining to comment on whether charges against Amazon were to be filed soon, the commission said in a statement Thursday in response to Post queries that “when providing a marketplace for independent sellers, Amazon continuously collects data about the activity on its platform. Based on the Commission’s preliminary fact-finding, Amazon appears to use competitively sensitive information — about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace for the purposes of its retail operations.”
Amazon declined to comment.
European antitrust watchdogs have previously targeted Amazon. The online retailer is squaring off against the European Commission at the Court of Justice of the European Union over whether its tax arrangements with Luxembourg violated E.U. competition rules.
“Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits were not taxed,” Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition, said in 2017. The case is ongoing.
Before the end of the year, Vestager is also expected to announce a proposal for how Europe can revamp antitrust rules. According to a European diplomat, those new rules could include new restrictions targeted at tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Apple or Google.
Quentin Ariès in Brussels contributed to this report.