Germany’s antitrust authority has established an investigation into if U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon is harnessing its market dominance in its connections with third-party merchants using its site for a market.
The relocation comes as European authorities have already been taking a tough line on U.S. tech giants such as Google and Facebook, together with the European Commission also looking into Amazon’s double role as merchant and market.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office said in a statement on Thursday it had received several complaints from dealers about the company practices of Amazon of late.
“Amazon functions as a sort of ‘gatekeeper’ for clients. The dual function as largest trader and largest market means there’s a capability to impede other dealers on the stage,” stated cartel office President Andreas Mundt.
Mundt said the analysis would analyze the company states that Amazon imposes on investors using its website, such as a lack of transparency on the way that it finishes relationships with retailers, delayed payments and transport requirements.
An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on the proceeding beyond saying that it was cooperating fully and could continue to function to encourage the development of small and midsize companies. The European Commission is also exploring Amazon’s double function and is requesting manufacturers and retailers whether Amazon’s earnings of own-brand products very similar to theirs have hurt their enterprise. Germany is Amazon’s second most important economy. It’s confronted a long-running struggle with marriages in the nation over pay and conditions for logistics employees, who staged a second round of strikes a week.
The cartel office said the probe to Amazon will want to deal with any violations of German competitors or anti-trust legislation, but doesn’t foresee substantial fines unless they’re regarded as part of the last ruling requiring a business to finish any abusive market practices.
Researchers will contact retailers employing the Amazon system and analyze their contracts.
The German antitrust watchdog can also be exploring Facebook after discovering the societal networking giant abused its market dominance to assemble data on individuals with no knowledge or approval. Its judgment is expected in the New Year.