Google, Meta win court fight to rein in rulemakers across EU against local laws

Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Meta Platforms Inc., and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok won a ruling at the European Union’s top court that limits the scope for EU nations to pepper them with their own local rules.

The trio have been fighting an Austrian law that went into effect in 2021, forcing communications platforms to vet illegal online content on their platforms, or risk fines of as much as $10.7 million (€10 million). They argued the law can’t apply to them, given their EU headquarters are in Ireland, a magnet for some of the world’s biggest tech firms.

Countries in the 27-nation bloc “may not subject a communication platform provider established in another member state to general and abstract obligations,” the EU’s Court of Justice said in a statement on Thursday’s ruling.

The Austrian rules took effect ahead of the EU’s Digital Services Act, a new set of digital rules that oblige social media companies to hire more content moderators and use risk mitigation to decrease the spread of harmful content. Companies that fail to comply could face fines as high as 6 percent of annual revenue or even be banned from the EU if they repeatedly break the rules.

“We are pleased with today’s decision which reaffirms the im-portance of the EU’s country of origin principle,” Google said in an emailed statement. Meta declined to comment.

Spokespeople at TikTok and the Austrian regulator didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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