This month, Ms. Vestager signaled more action against American tech giants, including giving her office added antitrust powers to address structural competition problems within an industry rather than just individual cases against a single company.
The European Commission, the executive body for the European Union, is also debating a new digital services law that would include new regulations for large tech platforms like Amazon, Facebook and Apple that play a “gatekeeper role.” Other proposals under consideration include allowing regulators to step in even before a large tech platform has established dominance in a new market.
It is not the first time the European Commission has targeted Amazon. In 2017, officials ordered Luxembourg to recover from Amazon roughly 250 million euros in unpaid taxes. That same year, Amazon settled an antitrust case concerning its contracts with book publishers for e-books.
But otherwise, Amazon, whose chief executive, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s wealthiest person, has largely avoided tough regulation from authorities in the United States and elsewhere. This is despite criticism that it has crushed traditional industries like book selling and treated workers in its warehouses poorly.
But as Amazon’s dominance has grown, and as it has become a gatekeeper for thousands of merchants selling goods online, critics have warned that it is abusing its power and that regulators must act before it is too late.
In Washington, Amazon is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission as part of a broader inquiry by the agency and Justice Department into the tech sector. A case against Google could be brought as early as this summer, people familiar with the matter have said.
The actions on both sides of the Atlantic show how governments have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the power amassed by the world’s largest tech platforms in recent years over commerce, communication and media.
While European authorities have acted the most aggressively against the tech giants, many have questioned whether its approach is working. In three separate cases, the European Commission fined Google a total of 8.24 billion euros, the equivalent of about $9.3 billion today, but critics argue it did little to dislodge the internet giant’s dominant market position.