AMAZON IS WAKING to a nasty hangover after the Prime Day celebrations (did Bezos Claus come down your chimney?) with what has been described as a "full-blown" antitrust investigation from the European Commission (EC).
The investigation centres around Amazon's position as both a retailer and a merchant - in other words, selling products directly as well as from third-parties.
We've already written about Amazon's relationship with third parties following a report that items from companies whose fulfilment payments had lapsed being destroyed, brand new and in bulk.
Google's favourite Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, says that the EC will look into how Amazon uses data from third parties and if doing so gives them a competitive advantage.
"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," she explained.
The investigation started in preliminary form last year, with EU officials making casual requests to third-parties using Amazon about their relationship with the company.
If there was any doubt if the EC's threats have teeth, you only need to look at the recent fines imposed against Google which stretch into billions of Euros.
If Amazon is found to have breached antitrust rules, it could be fined up to 10 per cent of its annual global turnover - which given Amazon's complicated financial affairs might not prove as easy to calculate as you'd hope.
Amazon has already agreed to third-party rule changes for its German operations, though it's not clear if these would meet the demands of the EU if rolled out to the other 26/27 countries in the bloc.
Amazon issued a statement on Wednesday saying: "We will cooperate fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow."
Which is so groovy and hippy it makes us all want to wear flowers in our hair, which could prove more difficult for Bezos.
Jeff Bezos, lest we forget, is building a clock. μ
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