Amazon sues EU for calling it a ‘Very Large Online Platform’

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Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ online retail behemoth that registered over 300 million active users and raked over $500bn last year, says it doesn’t fit the EU’s definition of a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP). 

The Silicon Valley firm is so adamant it isn’t a VLOP, it is suing the EU over the matter, making it the first (and probably not the last) US company to challenge the bloc’s new digital content rules.  

Amazon was among the first of 18 companies to be designated a VLOP in late April under the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA), designed to curb hate speech and disinformation online. A VLOP designation requires companies to do more to tackle illegal online content, undertake risk management, conduct external and independent auditing, and share data with authorities and researchers. 

All platforms that reach at least 45 million monthly active users are required to comply with the full obligations of the DSA, which comes into force on August 25. Facebook, Twitter, Apple’s App Store, Google Play, YouTube, and German retailer Zalando are all included, among others.  

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According to Amazon, the DSA was designed to address systemic risks posed by very large companies that distribute speech and information and rely on advertising as their primary revenue. “Amazon doesn’t fit this description of a ‘very large online platform’ under the DSA and should not be designated as such,” it said. The retail giant said its addition to the EU’s naughty list means it would be “unfairly singled out and forced to meet onerous administrative obligations that do not benefit EU consumers.” 

Last month, Germany’s Zalando, Europe’s largest online retailer, became the first company to start a lawsuit over the designation. The company claimed its active European user base figures aren’t substantial enough for it to be considered a VLOP. It has long been expected that Silicon Valley groups would also challenge the rules. 

“The scope of the DSA is very clear and is defined to cover all platforms that expose their users to content, including the sale of products or services, which can be illegal,” the European Commission said in a statement reported by the Financial Times. “For marketplaces as for social networks, very wide user reach increases the risks and the platforms’ responsibilities to address them.”

Amazon has opened the suit at the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second highest. The Commission said it is “ready to defend its position”.