back to article Brits make Amazon, Meta stop using third-party data to undercut rivals

Amazon and Meta have agreed to not use data collected from their marketplaces to unfairly benefit themselves, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority announced on Friday. The monopoly watchdog launched separate investigations into both internet giants' business practices, and accused the Big Tech duo of not only gathering …

  1. Yorick Hunt Silver badge
    Holmes

    Freudian typo?

    "Now, Amazon has committed to stop doing less of that."

    It may appear to simply be a typo resulting in a double negative, but I'll bet my left gonad that Spamazon will do PRECISELY that - keep doing what it's doing.

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Freudian typo?

      I was just going to comment the same thing. Have an upvote and a pint ---->

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Freudian typo?

        "Have an upvote and a pint ---->"

        I'll buy the next round.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Freudian typo?

          Supplied by Amazon Prime?

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Freudian typo?

      Sigh, yes. Brains were very tired on Friday evening. It's fixed.

      Don't forget to email corrections@theregister.com if you spot something wrong.

      C.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Freudian typo?

        Don't forget to put corrections@theregister.com in a "Corrections?" link somewhere so we don't have to go "Is it really corrections@theregister.com? or is the Alzheimer's getting worse?"

        1. alain williams Silver badge

          Re: Freudian typo?

          It is easily found below Errors and complaints by following the "contact us" link at the bottom of every page.

          1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Freudian typo?

            You don't expect computer geeks to pay attention to details do you? You trying to put the entire computer security industry out of business?

        2. Red~1

          Re: Freudian typo?

          The "Send Corrections" link can also be found next to the "Post a Comment" button at the top of this forum page :)

        3. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

          Re: Freudian typo?

          its getting worse

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Freudian typo?

        "Sigh, yes. Brains were very tired on Friday evening. It's fixed."

        Why? It captured everybody's expectations precisely.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Freudian typo?

      keep doing what it's doing

      Like Fletcher: "You won't catch me doing that again"

      Emphasis on the "catch me" part.

  2. theOtherJT Silver badge

    Amazon and Meta have agreed...

    ...to not use data collected from their marketplaces to unfairly benefit themselves

    "Agreed". Have they...

    And exactly how will this "Agreement" be enforced? Because I'm gonna go out on a limb here and predict that this "independent trustee" will be neither independent nor trustworthy, and that's before we get to the point of what exactly happens should said "trustee" decide they're not actually complying.

    "Ooops, yes, look like we still were profiling to our advantage. Terribly sorry. Total accident. Someone... uh... made a mistake in the config. Yeah. That's what happened."

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Amazon and Meta have agreed...

      I can see two way they could break this instead of doing it themselves some "3rd party" does it and "sells" the data back to them or some "rogue engineer" who will "accidently" collate the data!

      I do wonder what the punishment will be if they do break this agreement.

      1. Lurko

        Re: Amazon and Meta have agreed...

        "I do wonder what the punishment will be if they do break this agreement."

        The same as the punishment for their misbehaviour in the first place, which is nothing other than promising not to do it again.

        If found guilty of the practice (a "Chapter II Prohibition of the Competition Act 1998) then Amazon could have been fined up to 10% of worldwide turnover, the fact that the CMA have actually imposed no penalty suggests that they have failed to find sufficient evidence to create a watertight legal case. And that in turn suggests that either Amazon didn't do it, or were extremely good at covering their tracks and hiding the evidence. I know which of those I'd conclude to be the reality.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Amazon and Meta have agreed...

          the fact that the CMA have actually imposed no penalty suggests that they have failed to find sufficient evidence to create a watertight legal case

          It's funny how there is always an excuse why big corporation cannot be prosecuted.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Amazon and Meta have agreed...

        "I can see two way they could break this instead of doing it themselves some "3rd party" does it and "sells" the data back to them or some "rogue engineer" who will "accidently" collate the data!"

        No, here's what happens: some 3rd party does it and they put the data on a laptop. On the way home they stop off at their church for some reason or another and the laptop, which was just sitting on the front passenger seat, is stolen by a miscreant that smashes the window and runs off with it. (the car is parked in one of only two places there's no CCTV coverage. Since this is the UK, the only two parking places in the entire country not covered by a CCTV camera). The data gets put up for sale on the Dark Web and somebody downloads it, puts it on a thumb drive and mails it to Amazon to prove they have it and the ransom should be paid to some BTC account. Amazon can now say they had no hand in generating that data. It was part of an internal investigation into data theft/hacking/bad people/one of the Kim's.

        I'll write up a comprehensive treatment of the story and any producers out there can buy it at a really good price.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Amazon and Meta have agreed...

      "And exactly how will this "Agreement" be enforced?"

      Enforced? Why do you think that's a factor. Regulations have been passed and several politicians have been seen "doing something". Job done.

      1. Mark 65

        Re: Amazon and Meta have agreed...

        Don't forget "and future roles ensured". There's always a hint of that somewhere.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Amazon and Meta have agreed...

      made a mistake in the config

      Done by a programmer with a liking for red colours naturally..

  3. Rich 2 Silver badge

    What difference will it make

    Even if these odious companies do as they say, it will only apply to sales from UK companies operating through them. That doesn’t stop them using the same sales data from everywhere else in the world, taking an educated guess and applying that to the UK market

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Capitulation

    Amazon and Meta have agreed to not use data collected from their marketplaces to unfairly benefit themselves, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority announced on Friday.

    It's like Police saying that thieves agreed not so steal in the UK. It's a farce.

    If this country was serious, for something like that the execs would have been in prison and company assets would have been seized.

    CMA is again making fools of themselves. What is the point of this organisation leeching on the tax payer?

    1. talk_is_cheap

      Re: Capitulation

      "If this country was serious, for something like that the execs would have been in prison and company assets would have been seized." based on which broken laws?

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Capitulation

        1. If CMA did not suspect any laws were broken, they wouldn't have called Amazon and Meta in for a friendly chat.

        2. If Amazon / Meta really were not breaking any laws, they would have told CMA to fuck off.

        Since 1. happened and 2. did not, it's reasonable to infer laws were likely broken. You can always use another paragon of worldly virtue to look up which laws would apply.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Capitulation

          What they're doing is leveraging a dominant position in one market (selling adverts) to forge dominance in another (selling products)

          This is why there's a warning that "Capitalism is a fragile beast and an unnatural state of affars - it must be carefully supervised at all times, otherwise it will turn into the Saturnian monsters of Monopolism, Corporatism or Mercantilism and start eating its own children"

          If you look a little more closely at the definitions of those 3 monsters, you'll see that what is described as "Capitalism" in one part of the world, isn't - and that explains why they're so toxic

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    Now stop Amazon from ...

    demanding that any goods cannot be sold more cheaply anywhere else than the price on Amazon -- including the vendor's own web site. If this edict is not followed then the product disappears from anywhere that someone could reasonably find.

    1. My-Handle

      Re: Now stop Amazon from ...

      I once worked for a company that had this issue. IIRC, they got around it by virtue of their products being highly customisable. The products sold on their own website were "different model(s)" than the ones on Amazon. The pricing scheme was so amazingly specific to the model / size / colour / extras on any particular product that it was effectively impossible for Amazon (or other 3rd party sellers) to prove otherwise.

      Not a solution that would work for everyone, unfortunately.

    2. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Now stop Amazon from ...

      "reasonably" - weasel words.

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It’s OK, no really, go ahead

    We promise we’re not watching…

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

    Wow. The standards of legal action really have gone down since I was a kid.

    Once upon a time, Big Oil was broken up to stop the monopoly.

    Once upon a time, Ma Bell was shredded into multiple Baby Bells to stop monopoly.

    (okay, the fact that, in the end, it didn't make much of a difference is irrelevant - the monopolies were carved into pieces, we can do that again)

    Today, Justice is apparently content with a pinky promise to not do it so much in the future.

    No wonder CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies think they own the country. They do.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

      "Once upon a time, Big Oil was broken up to stop the monopoly.

      Once upon a time, Ma Bell was shredded into multiple Baby Bells to stop monopoly."

      Ask Cory Doctorow and he'll tell you that anti-trust laws in the US haven't been used in the last 40 years.

      Big oil companies are buying each other out.

      AT&T owns a large portion of telecommunications once again (except where it's not very profitable).

      Live Nation/Ticket Master controls nearly all of the event venues over a certain size in the US.

      Clear Channel owns the vast majority of radio stations in major US markets.

      Elon is saying that he wants to build X into the first international mega-corp that controls an exceptionally large part of everybody's lives.

      The list goes on and on.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

        I forgot:

        If you want an audiobook, you have to buy it through Audible.

        1. Red~1

          Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

          Even apple books audiobooks [are/were] supplied by audible - https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2003/10/16Audible-and-Apple-Announce-Availability-of-Exclusive-Content-Through-Apple-iTunes/

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

        "Ask Cory Doctorow and he'll tell you that anti-trust laws in the US haven't been used in the last 40 years."

        Which is when the corporatists gained power and control in USA federal government. Reagan was their puppet and was already doing their bidding in California as Governer - which is why the Social Contract of the New Deal was torn up in the late 60s/early 70s, culminating in Prop 13

    2. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

      If you don't like it, start a company and compete with them. Can't be bothered? get f#@ked.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

        If you don't like it, start a company and compete with them

        Ah yes. The everlasting cry of the unrepentent capitalist. Utterly ignoring that the entrenched monopoly will do everything (legal and illegal) to prevent competition. How do you think thet they got to be a monopoly anyway?

        After all, it's not like someone with £50k of savings can compete against a big company where each of their low-level lawyers get paid that a month.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

          If you HAVE a company in an established market and the monopolists show up you stand zero chance of survival

          As an example the ISP market was destroyed and _thousands_ of companies bankrupted when telcos said "That's a nice market you've created for us. Thanks"

          Fines and prosecutions after the fact don't recreate dead companies, nor do they compensate those bankrupted by anticompetitive acts (such as no call charges for the Telco's new ISP, whilst imposing per minute charges for calling any other one, or the monopoly abuse that went on with DSL rollouts)

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "Amazon has committed to doing less of that"

      "Once upon a time, Big Oil was broken up to stop the monopoly."

      Which resulted in the Gettys making more money than every before

      "Once upon a time, Ma Bell was shredded into multiple Baby Bells to stop monopoly."

      Which has resulted in AT&T reforming into a single monopoly formed in w

      ays the FTC can't touch (two companies, one east and one west of the Mississippi) without the burden of that pesky "Universal Service" obligation imposed on it in the antitrust settlements of the 1930s

      "Today, Justice is apparently content with a pinky promise to not do it so much in the future."

      Which is exactly what it was content with prior to the FTC enforcement actions in the 1880s and 1930s

      "No wonder CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies think they own the country. They do."

      This isn't new either. What you're seeing in the USA now is a direct result of a multidecade dampaign to destroy the New Deal, defang the government and return to socio-economic conditions prevailing in 1905 (the Gilded Era), waged by USA Captains of industry tag-teaming with evangelists as part of an agreement forged in late 1940

      The parties responsible gained the upper hand in March 1980 when they suceeded in outlawing the Air Traffic Controllers Union and have been increasing in strength ever since. The New Deal was trashed a while back

      Recommended reading: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/corporate-america-invented-religious-right-conservative-roosevelt-princeton-117030/

  8. Tubz Silver badge

    Amazon UK board meeting ..

    We got caught again.

    How much is the fine this time?

    Nothing, we just promise not to do it again.

    LOL, so business as usual, tell the accountants to order the new new Mercs for senior management and pass me the 50 year old Scotch and £100 cigars rolled on Cuban virgin thighs.

  9. tmTM

    Maybe

    Meta should turn their attention to the number of obvious scams in operation on their marketplace, and perhaps actually pull the adverts down rather than claiming they do not go against your community standards???

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