Amazon facing $590 million privacy fine, further investigation into data usage

Regulators are also looking at how the company selects merchants to appear in the 'buy box'.
Regulators are also looking at how the company selects merchants to appear in the 'buy box' Photo credit: Getty Images could be fined more than NZ$590 million under the European Union's privacy law, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Luxembourg's data-protection commission, CNPD, has circulated a draft decision and proposed a fine highlighting Amazon's privacy practices among the bloc's 26 national data-protection authorities, according to the report.

The case relates to Amazon's collection and use of individuals' personal data and violations under EU's landmark data privacy rules known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a source told the Journal.

Amazon declined to comment.

GDPR requires companies to seek people's consent before using their personal data or face steep fines.

An EU court ruling last month annulled an order that required Amazon, which has its EU headquarters in Luxembourg City, to pay back taxes to the country.

Meanwhile Britain's competition watchdog is planning a formal competition investigation into, the Financial Times reported, citing three unidentified people familiar with the situation.

The Competition and Markets Authority has been analysing Amazon's business for months, the newspaper said, adding the regulator was focusing on how the online retailer uses the data it collects on its platform.

The regulator has also scrutinised how Amazon decides which merchants appear in the crucial 'buy box' - the white panel to the right-hand side of a product where buyers click to add the item to their cart, the report added.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A probe into the company may focus on whether Amazon favours merchants that also use its logistics and delivery services when deciding who has access to the buy box and to its Prime customers, the newspaper said, citing the sources. The timing and scope of the probe were still being worked on, it said.

The investigation was likely to cover similar ground to probes under way in the European Union, according to the report.

Brussels has two open probes into Amazon - one that is looking at how the company is using data to advance its own products to the potential detriment of rivals, and another which is looking at the criteria for the use of the buy box.