Germany: Antitrust probe opened into Amazon using tougher law

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: May 18, 2021, 05:37 PM IST

Employees now allowed to carry mobile phones in Amazon warehouses. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Amazon has said that it will fully co-operate with the proceedings

Germany's competition authority has opened inquiry into retail giant Amazon over potential 'anti-competitive practices'. The inquiry has been opened using a new law that gives regulators more teeth to control big t ech companies.

Federal Cartel Office head Andreas Mundt said his office is examining whether Amazon has "an almost unchallengeable position of economic power" and whether it "operates across various markets".

If so, it could be deemed of "paramount significance", said Mundt, adding that the regulator could "take early action against and prohibit possible anti-competitive practices by Amazon".

"This could apply to Amazon with its online marketplaces and many other, above all digital offers," he added.

In a statement to AFP, an Amazon spokesperson said the company "cannot comment on ongoing proceedings and will fully cooperate with the FCO".

Under the amendment to Germany's competition law passed in January, the watchdog said it now has more power to "intervene earlier and more effectively" against big tech companies, rather than simply punishing them for abuses of their dominant market position.

Reforms in Germany coincided with new European Union draft legislation that was unveiled in December. The draft legislation was aimed at curbing the power of the tech companies. This can potentially shake-up the way Silicon Valley operates in the European Union.

The push to tighten legislation comes as big tech companies are facing increasing scrutiny around the globe, including in the United States, where Google and Facebook are facing antitrust suits. 

The Amazon probe is only the second time that Germany's Federal Cartel Office has made use of its new powers, after first employing them to widen the scope of an investigation into Facebook over its integration of virtual reality headsets.

The watchdog already has two traditional abuse control proceedings open against Amazon.

(With inputs from agencies)