EU antitrust regulator opens probe into Amazon

EU antitrust regulator opens probe into Amazon
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The European Union antitrust regulator that has been aggressively policing American tech giants said on Wednesday that her office is now looking into Amazon's business practices.

Margrethe Vestager, Europe's commissioner for competition, said at a news conference on Wednesday that she had opened a preliminary inquiry into the e-commerce giant.

At issue, Vestager said, was how the company handles data from the merchants hosted on its platform that it also competes with. If regulators find that Amazon is using that data to hurt competitors, the company could be in for a crackdown.

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"We are gathering information on the issue and have sent quite a number of questionnaires to market participants in order to understand this issue in full," Vestager said, adding that the commission hasn't opened a formal investigation.

U.S. tech companies have learned in recent years not to take the EU watchdog lightly.

Vestager was behind the two record antitrust fines against Google in as many years as well as the ruling that Apple owed Ireland billions in back taxes after finding the iPhone maker had been granted illegal state aid.

Amazon declined comment on the EU probe.

--Updated at 1:43 p.m.