The dispute was expected: the American champion of social networks Meta and its Chinese rival TikTok have both filed an appeal before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in order to challenge new rules established within the framework of the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
At the beginning of September, the Commission designated 22 digital platforms as “access controllers” (Or “gatekeepers”), that is to say companies exceeding 7.5 billion euros in turnover in the European Union (EU) or 75 billion euros in market valuation. This status has the effect of subjecting them to the DMA from March 6, which establishes new, stricter rules intended to curb anti-competitive practices in the digital ecosystem.
Among these 22 services, we find the key players on the Web: the social networks Facebook and Instagram, as well as the messaging services WhatsApp and Messenger, all properties of the Meta group; Android and Windows operating systems; Chrome and Safari browsers; Google’s search engine… All these tools belong to six major technology groups: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and the Chinese ByteDance, owner of TikTok.
“Clarifying points of law”
The DMA imposes on them a straitjacket of obligations and prohibitions, supervised by the Commission, which intends to further open these markets to competition. The text must in particular require them to apply interoperability between competing services and facilitate the uninstallation of pre-installed applications. It will force, for example, Apple to authorize application stores other than the Apple Store on its iPhone or iPad. It will prohibit any favoritism in search engine results; a criticism which has notably been made to Google in favor of its online sales site Google Shopping. Companies in violation will face fines of up to 20% of their global turnover in the event of repeat offenses, or even dismantling measures in the most serious cases.
But, unsurprisingly, the legislation is already the subject of legal challenges, which are probably only a foretaste of future disputes over the interpretation of the texts. Thus, Meta announced on the evening of Wednesday, November 15, that it was contesting before the CJEU the designation of its instant messaging Messenger and its Facebook Marketplace within the scope of the new law. “This appeal […] does not modify or diminish our firm commitment to comply with the DMA”however, declared a spokesperson for Meta.
TikTok, for its part, announced Thursday that it was going to take legal action against its designation, seeing itself as an emerging player, likely to challenge the dominant positions of the American giants. “Our designation risks undermining the stated aim of the Digital Markets Act by protecting dominant platforms from new competitors such as TikTok”, the company wrote on its website. This designation “is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of our business (…) it risks protecting the same monopolies that the law intended to challenge”, she added. The groups concerned had until Thursday to file an appeal.
The World with AFP