A view of the Amazon logo is displayed in Douai, northern France, April 16, 2020. The Italian anti-trust authority on Thursday, December 9, 2021 fined Amazon a fine of 1.13 billion euros, the accusing it of exploiting its dominant position against third-party sellers on its site in areas such as logistics and product promotion in violation of EU competition rules.
AP Photo / Michel Spingler, File
MILAN (AP) – Italy’s antitrust authority on Thursday fined Amazon 1.13 billion euros ($ 1.3 billion), accusing the company of exploiting its dominant position against independent sellers on its website in violation of European Union competition rules.
The fine is one of the largest in Europe against the online retail giant, which has spread especially in Italy during a coronavirus lockdown that has prevented residents from visiting stores to purchase items considered non-essential.
Europe has pioneer efforts to curb big tech companiesincluding imposing multibillion-dollar fines on Google in three antitrust cases. The push is gaining momentum around the world as regulators and lawmakers take on digital giants on charges of everything from choking competition to failure to prevent harmful content from appearing on their platforms.
Amazon said it “strongly disagrees” with the Italian regulator’s decision and will appeal, calling the fines and proposed remedies “unjustified and disproportionate”. He noted that more than half of annual sales in Italy come from small and medium-sized businesses that have access to other channels to sell their products.
The Italian authority of AGCM said Amazon had demanded that third-party sellers use its own logistics service, called Fulfillment by Amazon, harming its competitors and strengthening its own position.
The e-commerce giant is also blocking third-party sellers from accessing Amazon’s Prime loyalty program, “making it easier to sell to more than 7 million of the most loyal and spendthrift consumers.”
This means that these sellers are also excluded from special events, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day deals, reducing the chances of sellers’ items appearing as a “featured deal.”
“The survey showed that such benefits are crucial for gaining visibility, for boosting sales and, therefore, for the success of sellers’ offers on Amazon.it,” said the regulator.
The authority ordered Amazon to grant business benefits and visibility on Amazon.it to all third-party sellers capable of meeting the standards of its Prime service, which it must publish.