First trial by fire for the new European regulations on digital markets. On Wednesday and Thursday, Meta (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) and TikTok, a subsidiary of ByteDance, officially seized the General Court of the European Union to challenge the scope of application of the new competition rules established by the Digital Market Act (DMA) , adopted in July 2022. The various tech giants targeted by this text had until Thursday, November 16 to appeal the designation of their services, which they will have to respect from March 6.
Indeed, this regulation aims to regulate the digital giants and will impose on “access controllers” (or gatekeepers in English), a list of obligations and prohibitions to be respected, under penalty of sanctions which could reach 10 to 20%. of their global turnover. Last September, the European Commission designated six “access controllers” (or gatekeepers). These are Amazon, Apple, ByteDance (TikTok), Google, Microsoft and Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp). Several of their services are subject to this new regulation.
Meta contests the integration in this list of its Messenger messaging and its Marketplace. “This appeal aims to clarify specific points of law concerning the designations of Messenger and Marketplace within the framework of the DMA”, specifies Meta in a press release. “It does not change our commitment to respect the DMA and we will continue to work constructively with the European Commission.” For its Marketplace, the tech giant wants to prove that it is not used by Meta to target new consumers, but that it is a platform for connecting individuals.
Regarding Messenger, Meta argues that this messaging is not independent and that it is a feature of its social network Facebook. The tech giant wants to avoid the Brussels measure, which consists of promoting interoperability between the messaging systems of the different “gatekeepers” designated by the DMA. Concretely, with this measure, a user of WhatsApp and Messenger or Apple's iMessage function will ultimately have to be able to communicate with competing services like Signal.
For its part, the Chinese social network TikTok, a subsidiary of the Bytedance group, is contesting its designation as a “gatekeeper” by Brussels this Thursday. On the grounds that it could “hinder the company’s ability to grow”. TikTok sees itself as an emerging player, likely to challenge the dominant positions of the American giants.
According to the text of the DMA, a “gatekeeper” must have more than 45 million users in Europe and record an annual turnover of more than 7.5 billion euros, i.e. a valuation of more than 75 billion euros. euros. In Europe, TikTok reportedly has 150 million monthly active users.