Brussels praises Italy for fining Amazon €1.1 billion in antritrust case

The Italian antitrust body has slapped a €1.128 billion fine on Amazon after finding that the US giant holds a position of absolute dominance in the Italian e-commerce market, which has allowed it to favour its own logistics service. The European Commission has already praised Italy’s move, while Amazon said it would appeal the decision. EURACTIV Italy reports.

The fine was slapped on a number of Amazon-controlled companies, including Amazon Europe Core, Amazon Services Europe, Amazon EU, Amazon Italia Services and Amazon Italia Logistica, for abusing their dominant position in the e-commerce logistics services industry.

Sellers are being discouraged from offering their products on other online platforms with the same range of products because sellers have access to a number of advantages to gain visibility and better sales prospects on Amazon’s Italian website – Amazon.it – when they rely on the company’s logistics service, the antitrust body also said.

The main advantage the companies get from using Amazon as a platform is the so-called Prime label that “allows to sell with more ease to the most loyal and high-spending consumers adhering to Amazon’s homonymous loyalty programme”.

This label also allows them to “participate in the special events managed by Amazon, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Prime Day, and increases the probability that the seller’s offer is selected as a Featured Offer and displayed in the so-called Buy Box.”

“Amazon has thus prevented third-party sellers from associating the Prime label with offers not managed with FBA,” the Italian government body also said, adding that this has prevented competing e-commerce logistics operators from presenting themselves as providers of quality services comparable to those offered by Amazon’s logistics.

“It is difficult to say whether the quantification of the penalty is adequate or not, but it seems clear that it is always easier for those who enjoy a competitive advantage in terms of data to move from a dominant position in one sector to another,” said Rocco Panetta, Internet and privacy expert and country leader for Italy in the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

“It is now clear to everyone that antitrust and data protection authorities are and will be increasingly at the forefront of market and consumer protection,” he said.