(Bloomberg) -- 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 million ($10.7 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% 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 importance of the EU’s country of origin principle,” Google said in an emailed statement. Meta declined to comment. 

Read More: Europe’s Two-Track Approach to Policing Big Tech: QuickTake

Austria’s office of the Minister for the Constitution said the 2021 law was only an “intermediate” step to protect people “against hatred on the Internet. Subsequent rules passed by the EU and are now in force and “having an impact.” 

The government will consider repeal of its guidelines in February 2024, it wrote in an emailed reply to questions.

Austria’s office of the Minister for the Constitution said the 2021 law was only an “intermediate” step to protect people “against hatred on the Internet. Subsequent rules passed by the EU and are now in force and “having an impact.” 

The government will consider repeal of its guidelines in February 2024, it wrote in an emailed reply to questions.

A spokesperson at TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is: C-376/22, Google Ireland and Others.

--With assistance from Jonathan Tirone.

(Updates with Austrian comment in the penultimate paragraph)

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