Tech

A full EU probe into Amazon could come in the next few months, top official says

Key Points
  • The idea was to assess the dual role of the e-commerce giant, given that it hosts but also competes against these other merchants.
  • There are concerns that Amazon could be using sensitive information about its competitors' products to its own advantage.
EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager addresses a press conference on two state aid cases at the European Commission in Brussels on October 4, 2017.
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images

The EU aims to announce whether Amazon's data practices will be investigated further in the coming months, the institution's competition chief told CNBC.

In September, Margrethe Vestager, the head of competition policy in Europe, opened a preliminary probe into Amazon's use of data on its third-party merchants. The idea was to assess the dual role of the e-commerce giant, given that it hosts but also competes against these other merchants. There are concerns that Amazon could be using sensitive information about its competitors' products to its own advantage.

Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday, Vestager said that the investigation is now at an "advanced" stage. "A lot of businesses have taken time and effort to give us data to answer our questions. So, we very carefully go through this. But as I said we are advanced, and I hope that we can sort of conclude the first phase within this mandate," she said.

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This means that Vestager will soon decide whether there are strong reasons to believe that Amazon is taking advantage of merchants' data and, if that's the case, she will then open a formal investigation.

Vestager is due to end her mandate as the EU's competition chief in October.

Amazon was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC and did not provide a statement about this probe when it first begun in September.