Germany widens antitrust probes of Amazon to loop in special abuse controls • TechCrunch

Germany’s antitrust watchdog has moved to expand an existing investigation into Amazon’s business in the marketplace due to special abusive powers it has confirmed may apply to Amazon’s business. e-commerce giant’s business activities in this country this summer.

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) yesterday said it was expanding two ongoing “abuse control procedures” against Amazon to include the adoption of “new tools for more effective surveillance of digital companies.” large” (also known as Section 19a of GWB; a.k.a. restarted competition law) — a reference to Germany’s 2021 competition law reform aimed at digital giants that are said to be of “ultimate significance for compete in markets” with an antitrust regime proactively prohibiting practices such as self-priority, denial of interoperability, and monopolies that bundle their own services to the detriment of competitors’ services. guard, among other prior bans listed in Article 19b of the law.

German law is similar to pan-EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) was recently approved by the block — and will effective next year — so the FCO is taking the lead here, and the adoption of FCO-specific abuse control measures might provide a little insight into the extensive surveillance process underway across the continent for Big Tech.

The FCO has two open investigations into Amazon that are expanding to include a scrutiny of whether it complies with the restarted competition regime — an examination of the price control mechanisms it claims be aware of Amazon’s use of algorithmic pricing control by third-party sellers in its marketplace; and another proceeding that focuses on what it calls “branding,” or “probable disadvantage” to marketplace sellers due to various tools applied by Amazon. such as agreements with manufacturers (brands) where individual sellers may or may not sell products (brands) on the Amazon marketplace.

In a statement on the extension of the ongoing proceedings, Andreas Mundt, president of the FCO, said:

“We are considering in both proceedings whether Amazon hinders the business opportunities of sellers who operate in the Amazon marketplace and compete with Amazon’s own retail business and by how. Amazon operates the most important market in e-commerce, and therefore has an important position in that area, which allows the company to set far-reaching rules for competing on its platform. Our new capabilities, precisely to limit our right to set such rules, allow us to more effectively interfere with Amazon’s anticompetitive practices.”

Reaching for feedback on the development, an Amazon spokesperson sent us this statement — which confirms that it is seeking to appeal the FCO’s earlier decision that its business belongs to the FCO. special abuse control regime (Note: the decision remains in effect during the appeal period):

“We disagree with the FCO’s interpretation of this complex new law and have filed an appeal. The retail market in which Amazon operates is vast and extremely competitive, online and offline. We continue to cooperate with the Federal Cartel Office in these proceedings.”

As for pricing, the e-commerce giant denies it engages in any kind of abuse – generally arguing that its business succeeds when the seller is successful and claims third-party sellers three themselves set the price of their products in the market.

In regards to FCO’s trademark probe, Amazon claims it never changes a selling privilege without good reason – further hinting that any modifications it makes to how a seller can All activities are aimed at ensuring a reliable shopping experience for customers, for example by protecting shoppers from illegal goods.

While Amazon continues to vigorously fight against growing allegations of antitrust abuse, competitive surveillance continues to increase in Europe and beyond.

A competitive European Union investigation into the e-commerce giant’s use of third-party seller data has been underway for years — and Amazon’s attempt to settle the investigation this summer this summer, by making a series of commitmentswas quickly denounced by dozens of civil society and digital rights groups as weak sauce.

A few days later EVP committee and director of competition Margrethe Vestager warns the company Its offer is not good enough.

The EU is still reviewing industry feedback on Amazon’s commitments, so it remains to be seen where EU-wide antitrust proceedings will go.

Here summer The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has also announced its own investigation into Amazon’s market — although a few years behind, it still needs to do the work to determine if Amazon has a dominant position. in the market and only upon confirming that, see if it is abusing that position and distorting competition by giving an unfair advantage to its own retail business or the seller use its service versus a third-party seller who does not use its service. So the UK is lagging behind other European regulators in overseeing Amazon.

Outside of Europe, Amazon is fighting antitrust charges – and lawsuit — at home too after many years increased scrutiny of US legislators about Big Tech’s market power.


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