Amazon faced the prospect of an escalating conflict with the European Union in November when Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, laid out evidence that the company may have unfairly used sales data from smaller retailers on its platform. The specter of Amazon using such data to identify emerging trends has been a major concern for regulators worldwide, and interest from Vestager—perhaps the world’s most feared antitrust enforcer—was an ominous sign. The EU also recently started a second probe into how the company picks products for a highlighted “buy box.”
But while Vestager laid the groundwork for what could be a repeat of the bruising fight the EU has waged against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, resulting in fines of about $9 billion, she has also struck a surprisingly conciliatory note, hinting that Amazon.com Inc. might not have to head down the same track.
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