Amazon employees use data from sellers on their platform to offer competing products themselves. Amazon says it doesn’t allow this, but an internal report says the company has long been aware of the practice.
Companies have been able to sell products at Amazon for years, but Amazon also offers a whole range of products itself. That gives the web giant a very dual role. It benefits that as many companies as possible offer products through Amazon, but it sometimes competes with them too. Data about which products score well is crucial in this.
Last year, CEO Jeff Bezos told US MPs that the company has a policy on this that prohibits employees from using data from specific sellers to improve sales of Amazon’s own products. However, he admitted that he could not rule out that it ever happened.
But it does happen, and Amazon has known about it since at least 2015. An internal audit, which Politico could view, warns that 4,700 Amazon employees working on the sale of proprietary products have unauthorized access to data from third-party sellers on the Amazon web store. In at least one case, that data was also misused to improve own sales.
That is more or less the definition of abuse of power. Something the European Commission has been investigating since November 2020 and provisionally believes that Amazon is violating competition law.