Apple joins Meta and ByteDance in contesting the EU’s ‘gatekeeper’ designation

Apple has joined Meta and TikTok owner ByteDance in contesting their platforms’ definitions as part of the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The legislation allows regulators to designate dominant companies’ services or platforms as “gatekeepers,” or big and powerful enough to act as a bottleneck between businesses and customers, which it can then fine for prohibited behavior. It currently targets 22 gatekeeper services run by six Big Tech companies (Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google, Meta, Amazon and ByteDance’s TikTok). The law encourages consumer-friendly competition, preventing businesses from imposing unfair conditions on customers.

The EU Court of Justice (via Reuters) posted on X Friday about Apple’s formal objection, announcing that the iPhone maker had joined Meta and ByteDance in contesting its decisions. Although the complaint details aren’t public, Bloomberg News reported last week that Apple would challenge the App Store’s gatekeeper designation. The company said this week it would soon support RCS on iPhone, potentially removing one of the EU’s bones to pick with iMessage consumer lock-in.

Microsoft and Google have reportedly accepted their DMA designations, while Meta and ByteDance contested theirs. Meta specifically questioned Messenger and Marketplace’s gatekeeper labels, seeking to clarify why they were included. (Meta didn’t challenge Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp’s inclusion.) The company argued Marketplace is a consumer-to-consumer service and Messenger is a chat feature on Facebook, not an online intermediary.

Meanwhile, ByteDance argues that TikTok is a challenger in the social market rather than an established gatekeeper. It claimed designating its platform as such would only serve to protect more established companies.

Like the Digital Services Act (DSA), the DMA has significant teeth. Companies failing to comply can face fines of up to 10 percent of their global turnover, up to 20 percent for repeat offenders and periodic fines of up to five percent of their average daily turnover. Other penalties, including the divestiture of parts of a business, could also be included following market investigations.

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