Meta and TikTok take legal challenge to new EU competition law

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Meta and TikTok have opened a protest front before European justice concerning the new EU competition rules which will apply in March 2024. At the beginning of September, the European Commission in fact designated 22 digital platforms which will be subject, from March 6, to the Digital Markets Regulation (DMA).

This Wednesday, Meta announced that it was contesting before the EU court the designation of Messenger and Facebook Marketplace within the scope of the new law. “This appeal aims to clarify specific points of law,” said a Meta spokesperson. “It does not modify or diminish our firm commitment to comply with the DMA. »

Meta and TikTok side by side

At the same time, the group will continue to prepare for the compliance of Messenger and Marketplace. It does not call into question the presence of four other of its services (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and its online advertising activities) among the 22 platforms covered.

The next day, TikTok also announced that it was going to take legal action against its designation because it sees itself as an emerging player, useful to the competition. This designation “risks protecting the same monopolies that the law intended to challenge,” declared the company, believing that it represented a healthy competitor to the current dominant platforms.

Tough sanctions in the event of anti-competitive practices

The DMA establishes strict new rules aimed at curbing anticompetitive practices in tech. The platforms concerned are all key players in the sector: social networks (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok), instant messaging (WhatsApp, Messenger), operating systems (Android, Windows), browsers (Chrome, Safari) or search engines ( Google).

The 22 platforms belong to only six tech giants: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and the Chinese ByteDance, owner of TikTok. The DMA imposes on them a straitjacket of obligations and prohibitions, supervised by the European Commission which intends to further open these markets to competition.

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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. Unsurprisingly, the legislation is therefore already the subject of legal proceedings, a simple foretaste of future disputes over the interpretation of the texts.

Interoperability soon to be imposed in the EU

Questioned by AFP, the European Commission did not comment on the two legal actions. However, a European official said he was “confident” that all groups were working to be in compliance before March 6. “Companies are taking legal action, but at the same time they are doing what is necessary to comply with the law,” he explained.

The DMA will notably impose interoperability with competing services and facilitate the uninstallation of pre-installed applications. For example, it will force 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 frequently leveled at Google.