EU's Top Competition Cop Says Amazon Probe in 'Quite Advanced' Stage

The European Union’s top Contest cop States her preliminary investigation to Amazon’s Information practices is in”quite Sophisticated” stages.

Her team is probing whether Amazon utilizes the information it collects from companies which sell products on its platform to inform its own product sales and undercut its rivals. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos possesses The Washington Post.)

“Since it is not given I can continue to your commissioner for competition, I want to take more decisive measures before I have to go,” Vestager told a small group of reporters at South by Southwest. “We are pushing it for obvious reasons.”

As Europe seeks to crack down on Big Tech, Vestager is particularly concentrated on the competition problems that arise when firms are equally marketplaces that host other sellers — and merchants competing to peddle their particular products. Vestager would like to make sure that the biggest players that drive the digital economy – a la Amazon – are not abusing their market dominance and hurting consumers since they use info from competitors to inform their own business decisions.

An official case against Amazon might set the tone for how policymakers across the entire world – even at the US – might treat the issue.

It extends far past a single e-commerce giant, Vestager explained. Google also has this nature since in addition they are being the navigation tool to discover a lot of companies, companies that they themselves compete with.”

Vestager stated Google Shopping is another illustration of her concerns. In 2017, she fined Google for steering customers to its own service which lets individuals compare products from all over the Web over rival online shopping services.

That $2.7 billion fine and others have built Vestager’s standing as Silicon Valley’s top nemesis throughout the pond. And at a time when many American politicians are only talking about antitrust and reining in Big Tech, Vestager has built a record on taking action. She also fined the search engine that a record-setting $5 billion for forcing Android cellphone manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chromeprogram on the phones. She is also fined Amazon and Apple for failing to pay taxes.

As 2020 Democratic presidential candidates steered the conversation at South by Southwest toward how they would regulate the tech business, there was possibly no more appropriate year for Vestager to attend the festival.

But her approach differs from that of presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, that gave an impassioned pitch at the festival for her plan to split up Substantial Tech.

When asked regarding Warren’s plan, Vestager said Europe could also attempt to split up the companies through laws.

Warren, D-Mass., and Vestager are concerned about the exact same contest issue, however. In our interview,” Warren said she wanted to split up Amazon therefore it couldn’t use the information it collects from vendors to compete together.

“It’s like in baseball. You may be the umpire; that’s like the platform,” Warren explained. “Or you can own the team; that is among those businesses. However, you don’t get to be the umpire and own the group from the league.”

Since Vestager looks long-term in the work she wants to perform to make sure European governments are ready to handle competition issues involving technologies, she tells me she is closely observing the hearings the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is holding on how the agency should address digital challenges.

“I really like this approach, they make a stock taking,” she explained. “We’re interested as colleagues and colleagues out of my providers will come over and have a listening ear.”


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