Amazon faces probe in Europe over third-party selling

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Amazon will face a formal European Union antitrust investigation into its dealings with third-party merchants.

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The European Commission, the EU's top antitrust enforcer, said Wednesday that its investigation will look into whether Amazon is abusing its dual role as both the provider of a marketplace where independent sellers can offer products and a retailer of products in its own right.

The story was first reported on Tuesday by Bloomberg.

The investigation would build on a preliminary probe, which began last September.

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Previous EU investigations into U.S. tech firms, including Qualcomm and Google, have resulted in hefty fines. Amazon’s third-party marketplace represents a growing portion of its overall sales.

Amazon said on Wednesday that it would cooperate fully with EU antitrust regulators investigating its use of merchants' data.

The European Commission said the investigation would look into two issues - Amazon's standard contracts with marketplace sellers and the role of data in selecting winners of the "buy box" which allows buyers to add items from a specific retailer into their shopping carts, accoridng to Reuters.

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Amazon and other tech leaders have faced similar antitrust scrutiny from U.S. regulators. The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are said to be exploring probes into the tech industry’s business practices, with a particular focus on Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Representatives from all four companies testified before the House Judiciary Committee at an antitrust hearing on Tuesday.

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