In a blow to TikTok’s efforts to delay its designation as a “gatekeeper” under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) antitrust rules, the EU’s General Court has dismissed owner ByteDance’s request for an interim measure. The court found that TikTok “failed to demonstrate the urgency” required for the request. Although TikTok is appealing the gatekeeper designation, the court’s decision means that TikTok will have to temporarily comply with the DMA rules that go into effect in March, even if the appeal is approved later. This rejection comes as another setback for TikTok, as it also faces a separate EU probe into its content moderation rules for minors.

With the gatekeeper status, TikTok will join other tech giants like Apple, Meta, Amazon, and Google in making changes for its EU users. These changes include allowing third-party businesses access to their services and obtaining consent for personalized advertising. However, if TikTok or any other gatekeeper company violates the DMA rules, they could face substantial fines, potentially reaching millions of euros.

Despite being disappointed with the court’s decision, TikTok’s spokesperson expressed optimism about the upcoming hearing on an expedited basis. TikTok is determined to present its case and contest the gatekeeper designation. The company recognizes the potential impact of compliance with the DMA rules and aims to find a suitable resolution through the appeal process.

Adding to TikTok’s challenges, the EU has initiated a separate probe into the platform’s content moderation rules for minors. The investigation will be conducted under the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA). The concerns stem from doubts about whether TikTok’s modifications to comply with the DSA are sufficient to protect underage users. Last year, TikTok made certain changes for its EU users, such as discontinuing personalized ads for minors based on their platform activities.

The Digital Markets Act is the EU’s response to the concentration of power among tech companies and their potential anticompetitive behavior. By designating certain platforms as gatekeepers, the EU aims to establish stricter rules and regulations to ensure fair competition and protect the interests of both businesses and consumers. The DMA seeks to prevent unfair practices, such as leveraging market dominance, imposing unfair conditions on users or competitors, and restricting user data portability.

As TikTok enters the realm of gatekeeper companies, there will be heightened scrutiny of its practices. The platform will need to navigate the DMA rules and demonstrate compliance to avoid fines and penalties. Additionally, the EU’s probe into TikTok’s content moderation rules for minors highlights the importance of safeguarding underage users and ensuring their safety online. This investigation underscores the EU’s commitment to holding tech companies accountable for their responsibilities toward vulnerable users.

The court’s rejection of TikTok’s request for an interim measure sets the stage for TikTok’s compliance with the DMA rules while the appeal process unfolds. This development will require TikTok to implement changes in its operations and adjust policies to adhere to the EU’s regulations. The future hearings and potential outcomes of the appeal will determine the long-term implications for TikTok and its position as an EU gatekeeper. As the digital landscape evolves and debates on tech regulation continue, it remains to be seen how platforms like TikTok will adapt and address stakeholders’ concerns while balancing innovation and growth.


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