European Union regulators filed antitrust charges Tuesday against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using its access to data from companies that sell products on its platform to gain an unfair advantage over them. The charges, filed two years after the bloc's antitrust enforcer began looking into the company, are the latest effort by European regulators to curb the power of big technology companies, the AP reports. Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition issues, has slapped Google with antitrust fines in the billions. She opened twin antitrust investigations this summer into Apple. The EU's Executive Commission also opened a second investigation Tuesday into whether Amazon favors product offers and merchants that use its own logistics and delivery system.
The EU investigation found that Amazon accesses and analyzes real-time data from other vendors that sell goods on its platform to help it decide which products of its own to launch and how to price and market them. That "appears to distort genuine competition," Vestager said. Investigators focused on that practice in France and Germany, the company’s two biggest markets in the EU, but Vestager gave no specific examples of merchants affected. The company faces a possible fine of up to 10% of its annual worldwide revenue. That could amount to as much as $28 billion, based on its 2019 earnings. The Seattle-based company rejected the accusations. Under EU rules, it can reply to the charges in writing and present its case in an oral hearing. It could be a while before there's a final decision; there are no deadlines for bringing an EU antitrust case to an end. (The US has hit Google with an antitrust suit.)