UK Watchdog Will Probe Amazon’s Data Use

The UK’s competition watchdog is planning a formal competition investigation into Amazon, mirroring a continuing investigation by the EU, according to three people familiar with the situation, reported The Financial Times.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been analyzing Amazon’s business for months, focusing on how the online retailer uses the data it collects on its platform. It has also scrutinized how Amazon decides which merchants appear in the crucial “buy box” — the white panel to the right-hand side of a product where buyers click to add the item to their cart. 

An investigation into Amazon may focus on whether the company favors merchants that also use its logistics and delivery services when deciding who has access to the buy box and to its Prime customers, according to two individuals close to the situation. The timing and scope of the probe were still being worked on, people with direct knowledge of the plans said. Both the UK and the EU also recently announced probes into Facebook’s allegedly anti-competitive behavior. 

One person at the CMA stated the UK watchdog was keen to have a “full portfolio” of cases against Big Tech companies. The agency had been watching the progress of similar cases in Brussels, the person added.

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