In recent months, European regulators increasingly have been scrutinizing the practices of U.S. tech giants that dominate their respective industries, focusing their investigatory efforts on Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Now, the European Commission is launching a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon’s e-books division to find out if the company is using its formidable position in the market to keep rival retailers at bay, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The European Commission announced Thursday that it is looking into whether or not Amazon’s policies pressured rivals into keeping their prices higher. Specifically, the investigation will examine the validity of clauses that demand European publishers tell Amazon about deals offered to other publishers at lower rates. In a statement, European antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager notes that the investigation doesn’t necessarily implicate Amazon: “It is my duty to make sure that Amazon’s arrangements with publishers are not harmful to consumers, by preventing other e-book distributors from innovating and competing effectively with Amazon.”
The commission has also opened a similar investigation into tech companies in the online shopping space, to ensure they aren’t hindering the competition. Amazon has already been under fire from the EU for its tax practices in Luxembourg, the company’s European headquarters: A report released in January claimed that Amazon may have been underpaying taxes due to its tax agreement with the country. Last month, Amazon announced that it would start paying taxes in other European countries as well, perhaps as a response to the allegations.PM