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EU opens probe into Amazon use of data about merchants

Talking point: The European Union’s antitrust watchdog has launched a preliminary investigation looking into Amazon’s role as both a competitor and host to third-party merchants that sell products on its websites. Amazon makes money for its services to merchants, but it also benefits from those merchants increasing the range of products available on Amazon’s sites, a gleaning intel on popular products. Although it’s been stressed that this isn’t a formal investigation, it shows that there are concerns about the tech giant’s business model. (Financial Times)

Ireland collects €13-billion tax bill from Apple, but is fighting to give it back

Talking point: Earlier this week, the California tech giant deposited €14.3 billion (about $22 billion) in an escrow account after the EU alleged Ireland gave the company illegal tax benefits for up to a decade. Ireland and Apple are prepared to wage an appeal process that could take up to five years in the hope that the money can be returned. (Irish Independent)

World Economic Forum takes on China tech regulation

Talking point: The organization, which runs the annual conference of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, is launching a “Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” in Beijing. The centre will act as a think tank of sorts, identifying regulatory gaps related to new technologies and run pilot programs to test new ones. Ignoring China would be like having “a Ferrari without an engine,” said Murat Sonmez, head of the forum’s network of policy centers. (Wall Street Journal)