British Competition Watchdog to Investigate Amazon Data Use

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British competition watchdog CMA is likely to launch a formal investigation into Amazon. Business newspaper Financial Times reports based on insiders that the regulator has concerns about how the online store group handles data it collects from users of the platform.

 

The CMA would also like to look more closely at how Amazon determines which specific product providers are visible to the consumer in the so-called ‘buy box’. That is the white panel on the right-hand side of the screen that the consumer must click on when he wants to place an item in his digital shopping cart.

According to the paper, Amazon may prefer merchants who also use Amazon logistics and delivery options. The CMA and Amazon declined to comment.

The study would be comparable to research work already being done by the European Commission. Previously, the British left these significant matters mainly to the European authorities in Brussels, but that is no longer possible due to Brexit. Brussels currently has two pending investigations into Amazon. One looks at how the company uses data to promote its own products at the expense of rivals, and another looking at buy box criteria.

The sizeable American technology groups have been scrutinized more often by European regulators in recent years. Authorities in Brussels and London also recently launched a formal investigation into Facebook. That social media company may have abused its dominant position to promote its own Marketplace service.

Facebook would also use data from advertisers on the platform to compete with those same advertisers. If these types of large companies are found guilty, their fines can be hefty. For example, Google has had to spend billions for this in recent years.

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