July 17 (UPI) -- The European Commission announced Wednesday it has opened an antitrust investigation into whether U.S. retail giant Amazon uses sensitive vendor data to gain a competitive advantage.
The commission said the inquiry will examine whether Amazon is in violation of EU competition rules.
"E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices," Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. "We need to ensure that large online platforms don't eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behavior.
"I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon's business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules."
The inquiry will examine whether Amazon misuses sensitive data of independent sellers who list products on its marketplace to gain a business advantage.
"Amazon appears to use competitively sensitive information -- about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace," the commission said.
"We will cooperate fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow," Amazon said of the investigation.
The European Union investigation was announced on the same day German regulators ended an investigation of Amazon over vendor issues like liability, jurisdiction, product information, confidentiality and transparency.
Amazon agreed to change its global business service agreement to help resolve objections from online sellers to settle the inquiry by Germany's Federal Cartel Office.
"The amendments address the numerous complaints about Amazon," FCO President Andreas Mundt said in a statement. "We have obtained far-reaching improvements for sellers active on Amazon marketplaces worldwide."
The office said Amazon agreed to open its Vine rating program to sellers who own a brand name registered with Amazon. The retailer argued it preferred using its own reviews due to concerns about phony reviews.
German officials said the new agreement will take effect next month. Bloomberg reported Wednesday Austria ended a similar inquiry.