Daily Management Review

EU will equate Skype and WhatsApp to telcos


The European Commission adopted new rules governing operation of various instant messengers and online voice and video services, such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber. These rules can be submitted as early as this week. According to them, such services will fall under safety requirements applicable to telecommunications companies. For example, internet services will have to immediately report failures and security problems to the authorities.

Sam Azgor
Sam Azgor
As reported by Reuters, citing a draft of the new rules, they will include a requirement to notify authorities about failures, to provide a plan for unforeseen situations, and strategies to ensure continuity of services. Messengers should as fast as possible inform authorities of security issues that significantly affect their work. In addition, services that provide voice calls, will be required to offer emergency calls. Before the rules proposed by the European Commission take effect, they must be approved by the European Parliament and EU Member States.

European telecommunication companies, such as Vodafone, Orange and Deutsche Telekom, have long complained that technology companies, such as Google, Facebook and others, provide essentially the same service, but are regulated by less stringent standards. Earlier, the European Commission reported that it is preparing new rules for technology companies that provide voice and text messages. "It would be better to cancel these rules for us. However, this is significant progress, "- Head of one of the European telecommunication companies quoted by The Wall Street Journal. The technology companies say that the new rules would lead to increased costs, growing number of lawsuits and delay in launching new services. 

Earlier, representatives of Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) accused WhatsApp in cheating users in 2014. The messenger promised that acquisition of the company by Facebook would not affect the personal data policy. In addition, EPIC suspects the messenger in violation of rules of the US Federal Trade Commission. In connection with this, EPIC intends to file a complaint against WhatsApp’s actions.

The EPIC is sure that the messenger is deceiving its users: in 2014, when Facebook acquired WhatsApp, the company said the deal would not affect the privacy policy, and that the personal data would never be disclosed or shared with third parties without the user's consent.

Recall that earlier WhatsApp admitted transferring a limited volume of user data to Facebook. This, according to the messenger, was necessary to test new features designed to help users to "communicate with the business", for example: to receive notification of fraud from a bank or a delayed flight from the airline, as well as to fight against spam. The company has also assured that all messages will continue to be fully encrypted and not accessible to Facebook and WhatsApp staff.

source: reuters.com