Amazon to be investigated by UK watchdog in major ‘Big Tech’ crackdown

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Amazon is set to be investigated by the UK’s competition watchdog as part of a major effort to crack down on ‘Big Tech’ in the country.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is reportedly planning to launch a formal investigation into the retail giant, and is understood to have already been analysing its business for months.

According to the Financial Times, sources close to the matter say that the CMA will focus on how Amazon uses the data it collects from both shoppers and sellers on its platform.

It is understood that the watchdog will also focus on how Amazon decides which sellers will appear in its coveted “buy box”, the box on the right-hand side of a product page allowing shoppers to immediately add the product to their basket.

Around 82 per cent of all purchases are made through this “buy box”, but it is only granted to certain sellers with leading seller metrics.

READ MORE: CMA proposes lowering burden of proof to block big tech acquisitions

The CMA will seek to determine how these sellers are selected, and whether Amazon favours sellers who also use its logistics service.

While the CMA has not yet officially commented on the investigation, sources state that it is likely to cover similar ground to the ongoing investigations which are being carried out by Brussels.

The EU currently has two ongoing antitrust investigations into Amazon, one looking at whether it uses its seller data to advance its own products and another which is also investigating its “buy box”.

It comes as both the EU and the UK’s CMA have made concerted efforts to clamp down on Big Tech in recent months, with the latter launching a similar investigation into Facebook over potential anti-competitive practices.

Last month the CMA also called for new powers to lower the burden of proof required to block dominant tech companies acquiring smaller rivals.

The new regulations would apply only to tech companies deemed as having “strategic market status”, which refers to companies with powerful positions in digital markets.

This will include Google’s search and advertising businesses and Facebook for its role as a leading social media platform.

Amazon, Apple and even Uber are likely to be included at a later date if they are deemed to possess a strategic market status.

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