(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. became the third US tech giant to be subject to Germany’s tough new antitrust rules targeting the dominance of a handful of powerful digital firms, and will also face a separate probe in the UK.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office on Wednesday said more than every second euro in German online retail is being spent on Amazon, making its market position dominant.
“Amazon is the key player in the field of e-commerce,” said Andreas Mundt, the office’s chief. The decision means “that we can target and prevent potentially anti-competitive behavior by Amazon more effectively than before.”
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said Wednesday it’s opening an investigation into whether Amazon is abusing its dominance in its Amazon UK Marketplace. It follows a similar European Commission probe and the CMA said it will work closely with its counterparts in Brussels.
“Any loss of competition is a loss to consumers and could lead to them paying more for products, being offered lower quality items or having less choice,” said Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s interim CEO.
The British watchdog, which has shown its willingness to enforce against big tech, will look at how Amazon collects third-party data, its criteria for Prime labeled items, and what products get to be the first choice in the ‘Buy Box.’
Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Alphabet Inc. and its Google unit are already subject to the tougher regime in Germany. The rules allow Mundt’s office to step in earlier and more effectively when it sees anti-competitive behavior.
Germany’s antitrust watchdog has often led from the front in Europe even as European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager opened cases spanning the bloc into Silicon Valley firms. Amazon faces two investigations amid intense global regulatory scrutiny of the online retailer, which could soon be resolved in a settlement.
An Amazon spokesperson said the firm disagrees with the watchdog’s decision and is considering an appeal. An Amazon UK spokesperson said it will work closely with the CMA during their investigation.
“In Germany, we invested 36.5 billion euros from 2010 to 2020, we work closely with the local research community, we now employ over 30,000 people, and we will create another 6,000 new jobs this year,” the spokesperson said.
(Updates with more detail in the sixth paragraph, Amazon comment in the ninth paragraph)
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