Large technology companies are coming out of the woodwork to challenge the label of digital “gatekeepers” awarded by the European Commission.
Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta Platforms and Microsoft are all targeted by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the European Union’s new digital regulation, for 22 core services, from app stores and social networks to messaging services and online marketplaces, and much more.
Meta Wednesday was the first to say he had filed a legal challenge to the EU’s revamped enforcement regime before the General Court of the European Union, challenging EU officials’ decision to include its Marketplace and Messenger services within the scope of new digital competition rules.
“This appeal seeks to clarify specific points of law regarding the Messenger and Marketplace designations under the DMA,” said Matthew Pollard, a spokesperson for Meta.
Other companies could follow suit. The six targeted companies have until Thursday, November 16 to file their legal documents. Some have already indicated they are unhappy with the new labels the Commission gave them, according to filings. published online these last weeks.
Some companies are already changing the way they manage their businesses in Europe. Facebook and Instagram will offer paid subscriptions without advertising in the EU. Google opened data sharing in German and Italian antitrust cases.
Their other option is to convince European Union judges to overturn the Commission’s decisions.
But we don’t understand!
Companies designated as gatekeepers can ask the EU General Court to overturn individual decisions. That’s precisely what Meta did in his filing Wednesday.
Alfonso Lamadrid, a partner at law firm Garrigues, said they could claim they don’t understand why some services fell under the law and that EU officials failed to provide ” sufficient motivation.
They could also appeal — now or later — to the Commission. probes to determine whether Apple’s iMessage, along with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, its Edge web browser and its advertising service, should be considered core platform services. The deadline is February 6 to conclude them. Another investigation into Apple’s iPadOS takes place until September 6 next year.
Lamadrid – who has worked with Google on antitrust challenges, including the tech giant’s recent appeal of an antitrust fine for its shopping service – said he didn’t think big tech companies would “make the decision to appeal very lightly.”
Who could complain?
Meta is not the only goalkeeper unhappy with the decisions taken so far by the Commission.
ByteDance, owner of Apple and TikTok argued with the Commission that their services should not be subject to the new rules, according to Commission documents.
ByteDance said Commission, its viral video application is “focused on content discovery, not on establishing or maintaining real-world connections,” according to a EU decision published last month. ByteDance did not respond to a request for comment.
Apple tried without success in convincing the authorities that its App Store comes in five separate versions for different devices and its Safari browser in three, which would reduce the number of active users for each service. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Telecommunications companies are also unhappy. They told the Commission it should designate Apple’s iMessage as a core platform service that must follow DMA restrictions, according to a letter to Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton seen by POLITICO.
What do others say?
Microsoft is classified as a gatekeeper for its social network LinkedIn and its Windows PC operating service. Robin Koch, Microsoft spokesperson said in September that the tech giant “accepts our designation as guardian under the Digital Markets Act and will continue to work with the European Commission” to fulfill its obligations.
Alphabet – which offers eight core platform services targeted under the DMA, including Google search and the Chrome web browser – said in September, it will “work closely with the European Commission and other stakeholders” and “make changes that meet new requirements while protecting the user experience.”
Amazon’s marketplace and advertising businesses both qualified as core platform services under the DMA in September. The company said at the time that it was “committed to providing services that meet our customers’ requirements in the evolving European regulatory landscape” and that it would “work constructively with the European Commission as we finalize our implementation plans.”
Amazon challenged another digital label in the EU earlier this year, ask a court to overturn the Commission’s statement that it was a very large online platform.
But with just four months left before the rules become enforceable, any challenge could well attack the bureaucratic bear.
“Now is an important time for compliance,” Lamadrid said, “so it’s not ideal to have legal proceedings going on while you’re trying to negotiate with the Commission on compliance…I don’t I don’t think it’s in the company’s best interest to upset the Commission.
This article was updated on November 15 to include recent developments.