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The backstory: When the EU passed the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in 2022, it set out to regulate Big Tech. Under the DMA, the European Commission created the “gatekeeper” label. Gatekeepers are major market players that hold a lot of power and provide at least one “core” platform service (like a search engine, social network, browser or messaging service) – so, like, the definition of Big Tech. The DMA includes new regulations for these gatekeepers to ensure they offer “more choice and more freedom to end users and business users” of their services.
More recently: A couple of months ago, the EU designated six companies as gatekeepers – Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, ByteDance (TikTok), Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and Microsoft. These six gatekeepers provide 22 core platform services altogether. All six have to comply with specific gatekeeper regulations by March 2024. The European Commission allowed tech firms to appeal the “gatekeeper” designations for their different services, with the deadline set for November 16.
The development: Both Meta and ByteDance have appealed their gatekeeper designations. Meta argues that both Facebook Marketplace and Messenger shouldn’t be put under gatekeeper rules, filing its appeal on Wednesday. Meta says that Marketplace is a consumer-to-consumer service, so it can’t really be called an online intermediation service, and Messenger is just a part of Facebook. It’s not challenging the gatekeeper status for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, though. At the same time, lawyers for ByteDance are arguing that TikTok shouldn’t be held by the gatekeeper rules, either. ByteDance says that it’s actually a challenger to bigger players in the social media sphere. Both Microsoft and Google have said they won’t challenge their own DMA gatekeeper designations.
“This appeal seeks clarification on specific points of law regarding the designations” under the DMA, a Meta spokesperson said on Wednesday. “It does not alter or detract from our firm commitment to complying with the DMA.”
An EU Commission spokesperson said that the EU “respects companies’ right to appeal and will defend its decisions in court.”