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EU will reportedly file antitrust charges against Amazon over seller data abuse

The charges could come as early as next week.
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The logo of US online retail giant Amazon is seen at the distribution center in Staten Island as workers strike in demand that the facility be shut down and cleaned after one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus on March 30, 2020 in New York. - Amazon employees at a New York City warehouse walk off the job March 30, 2020, as a growing number of delivery and warehouse workers demand better pay and protections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS via Getty Images

Following a nearly year-long investigation into the company's business practices, the European Commission (EC) plans to announce formal antitrust charges against Amazon, according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper reports the charges will likely come sometime within the next two weeks. When they do, they'll reportedly accuse Amazon of using data collected from third-party sellers on its platform to compete directly against them. 

The company declined to comment on the report when asked by the Wall Street Journal. "Amazon appears to use competitively sensitive information about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace," the European Commission said when it first launched its probe into the retailer.

If the Wall Street Journal's reporting is accurate, the charges from the EC will be the latest instance of Amazon getting in trouble over its seller practices. Amazon's problems started in earnest following an April Wall Street Journal report. More than 20 former Amazon employees told the paper the company had used proprietary seller data to help design and price its in-house products. At the time, the retailer said it "strictly prohibt[s]" employees from using private seller data. It also said it had launched an internal investigation into the matter. 

However, Amazon's promise to hold itself accountable wasn't enough for US lawmakers. In May, the House Judiciary Committee called Jeff Bezos to testify before Congress. More so than the fact the company may have abused its position as the country's largest online marketplace, what may end up hurting Amazon the most is that it may have misled the government. In an earlier testimony before the House Antitrust Subcommittee, Nate Sutton, Amazon's associate general counsel, told lawmakers, "we do not use any seller data to compete with [third-party sellers]." 

Bezos has yet to testify before Congress and may not end up doing so. As of May 16th, the company said it would “make the appropriate executive available” to answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee.

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