Amazon and Meta bow to CMA pressure on uncompetitive data practices

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The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has reached a deal with Amazon and Meta over the use of competitor data on their retail platforms. 

The agreements come as part of two separate investigations by the CMA, and will see the companies limit the way they use customer data gathered by Amazon Marketplace and Facebook Marketplace for their own competitive advantage.

Amazon was accused of using independent sellers' sales figures to help it decide its own product offerings and set prices. 

The retail giant was also found to be promoting its own products unfairly through the one-click Buy Box - through which most purchases are made - and charging competitors extra for using the Amazon Prime delivery service.

As part of the deal, the firm has agreed to give independent sellers a 'fair chance' of their offers being featured in the Buy Box, and will be banned from using Marketplace data obtained from third-party sellers to give itself an unfair advantage.

It will also allow sellers to negotiate their own delivery rates directly with independent providers of Prime delivery services, and has agreed to appoint an independent trustee, to be approved by the CMA, to monitor compliance.

"We have accepted Amazon’s commitments, as they help thousands of independent UK sellers to compete on a level playing field against Amazon’s own retail arm," says Ann Pope, senior director for antitrust enforcement at the CMA. "This should also mean customers get access to the best product offers."

Meanwhile, Meta - by far the largest supplier of digital display advertising in the UK - has pledged to allow competitors of Facebook Marketplace that advertise on Meta platforms to opt out of their data being used to improve the marketplace.

This includes data that shows how users engage with their ads, and can indicate which products or services a user is interested in. This commitment, the CMA said, will be baked in with the implementation of a new technical system.

The company will also limit how it uses ad data when developing products, so that it can't exploit advertising customers’ data to improve its own, competing, offerings.


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"The commitments secured from Meta mean the firm cannot exploit advertising customers’ data to give itself an unfair advantage – and as such distort competition," says Pope.

The agreements come as the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill makes its way through parliament, giving the CMA greater powers to fine firms for breaking consumer protection rules. 

"We welcome the constructive resolution of our concerns in a way that benefits people and businesses, and expect to see more of this kind of resolution once the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill comes into force," said CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell.

The EU is also carrying out a similar investigation into possible antitrust breaches by Meta, while Amazon is under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is accusing it of illegally stifling competition.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.