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Google, Apple and other tech giants are expected to challenge the Digital Markets Act: EU Judge


A senior European Union judge said on Friday that the tech giants are likely to challenge a new EU law aimed at curbing their power with the first cases in a potential wave of litigation expected by the end of the year.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA), which took effect in November, will classify online platforms with more than 45 million users as gatekeepers, among other criteria.

Gatekeepers — the companies that control data and platform access — are subject to a list of tasks, such as making their messaging services interoperable, and what to avoid, including not favoring their products and services on their platforms.

The list of gatekeepers to whom the DMA will apply is set to be announced on September 6 and is likely to include Alphabet’s Google, Meta, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

Those who do not agree with the designation and requirements are likely to take their complaint to the Luxembourg General Court within months, said Marc van der Woode, its president.

The General Court is part of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and deals with cases ranging from competition law to trade and the environment.

He said at a conference organized by the European Commission probably at the end of this year, the beginning of next year, we may see the first cases and I don’t think it will stop.

Some, like Google and Apple, have lobbied heavily against DMA.

“We remain concerned that some DMA provisions will create unnecessary privacy and security holes for our users while others prevent us from charging for the intellectual property in which we invest so much,” she said in March 2022.

Google echoed those sentiments, and said it was also concerned that the new rules could reduce innovation.

But Van der Woude said DMA is still a work in progress.

“It’s a living being, this DMA, it’s under constant review, commitments will be reviewed and actions will be carried out. So if I can call it that, it’ll be lawyers’ heaven,” he said.

He said areas of contention will likely focus on hiring gatekeepers, the specification of their obligations and during DMA enforcement.

A potentially contentious area is the requirement for gatekeepers to notify their acquisitions to the Commission and whether such deals meet a regulatory scrutiny threshold, according to van der Wood.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.