Amazon is under fire in Austria, with the Austrian Federal Competition Authority reviewing the firm’s dual role as a leading retailer and a platform for small merchants.
According to a report in Bloomberg, citing the Austrian Federal Competition Authority, the agency’s investigation will look into whether or not Amazon is favoring its own products on the marketplace and discriminating against stores that use the eCommerce platform.
“The digital world is not a legal vacuum,” Theodor Thanner, the government agency’s head, said in a statement. “Companies operating on a global scale must adhere to applicable Austrian laws and regulations. The outcome might be commitments, an application for a fine or an application for termination of infringements to the Cartel Court.”
The Austrian Federal Competition Authority launched the inquiry after receiving complaints that it said were from a high double-digit number of stores. The inquiry is similar to one being conducted in Germany regarding Amazon’s dual roles. Meanwhile, the European Union is looking into allegations that Amazon used information it gets from rival sellers to roll out products.
In a statement to the news outlet, Amazon said it will “cooperate fully with the Austrian competition authority and continue working hard to support small and medium-sized businesses and help them grow.” With the investigation, the government agency will look into certain practices of Amazon including the abrupt termination of seller accounts, the requirement to disclose the purchase prices and lower product rankings for no reason. The inquiry will also include figuring out the size of the market, noted the report.
Europe has proven to be a hard-to-navigate regulatory landscape for tech companies from the U.S. Google has been hit with a hefty fine in Europe, while Apple owes a big tax bill. The tech companies also face new laws and regulations in terms of protecting data and dealing with their internet-based customers.