New European telecom regulations was announced recently to US Silicon Valley’s communications giants, like WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype and Viber. These applications and services have millions of users worldwide.
According to documents quoted by the Financial Times, the European Commission will next month propose bringing the Skypes and WhatsApps of this world into the same regulatory fold as their more traditional rivals.
That will mean the online players having to beef up the security of their services, while agreeing to new confidentiality rules that may limit what they can do with the data they hold on their customers’ communications. They might also have to provide access to emergency-service numbers in future.
“The Commission has been looking into the growing importance of online players that provide similar or equivalent services to traditional communication services,”
said Nathalie Vandystadt, spokesperson for the Commission’s Digital Single Market. The Commission was “considering” whether rules governing WhatsApp and Skype needed to be adapted, Vandystadt added, but didn’t confirm whether they would definitely be put in place.
If the new rules are introduced, messaging apps could be regulated in a similar way to traditional text messaging and voice calling by the law for the first time. Although, the Commission has been keen to emphasize that this will not automatically be the case.