Chinese tech giant ByteDance, the parent company of popular video-sharing app TikTok, has petitioned the European Union’s second-highest court to halt its classification as a gatekeeper under the stringent new EU tech regulations. The move comes as part of TikTok’s legal challenge against the designation, with the company arguing that the label could jeopardize the objectives of the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
The DMA, which came into effect recently, mandates designated gatekeepers, including TikTok, Google, Meta Platforms, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft, to ensure interoperability of their messaging apps with competitors. Furthermore, these companies are required to allow users the autonomy to choose which apps to pre-install on their devices. They are prohibited from exhibiting preferential treatment towards their own services over competitors’ offerings or restricting users from removing pre-installed software or apps.
TikTok initiated its challenge against the EU decision last month, filing a case at the General Court in Luxembourg. The company contends that its classification as a gatekeeper could undermine the very goals of the DMA, which is designed to safeguard gatekeepers from potential threats posed by emerging competitors.
In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson revealed, “We have applied for interim measures.” However, the spokesperson acknowledged that obtaining interim measures is a formidable task, as companies seeking such measures must demonstrate both the urgency of the situation and the irreparable harm they would suffer without them.
The legal battle underscores the growing tension between tech giants and regulatory bodies striving to maintain a level playing field within the digital landscape. ByteDance’s challenge against its gatekeeper label adds a new dimension to the ongoing discourse around the DMA, as the court is now tasked with determining whether TikTok’s concerns warrant the suspension of the gatekeeper classification pending the final ruling.
As the EU court weighs the arguments presented by TikTok, the outcome could have broader implications for the regulatory environment shaping the conduct of major tech players in Europe and beyond. The court’s decision on TikTok’s request for interim measures is eagerly awaited, as it could set a precedent for how tech companies navigate and challenge regulatory oversight in the ever-evolving digital ecosystem.