European Union mulls stricter controls on WhatsApp, Skype

European Union mulls stricter controls on WhatsApp, Skype

European Union mulls stricter controls on WhatsApp, Skype

The GSMA's note included the obligatory appeal to the 5G rollout - yes, the wrong privacy protection will stop you getting new stuff! - and said "sector-specific rules on privacy are no longer able to address the challenges of the digital age".

According to an internal European Commission document seen by Reuters, the EU executive wants to extend some of the rules to web companies offering calls and messages over the Internet.

Under the new regime, companies like Facebook owned Whatsapp and Skype owner Microsoft will be forced to comply with requests for data from law enforcement agencies.

"Unlike telcos, OTT (web-based) are global players that are allowed to commercially exploit the traffic data and the location data they collect", telecoms group Orange said in a response to the EU's public consultation on the reform proposals.

However, the commission should make an initial statement in September and only after that they would have to present some plans for a review in legislation until the end of this year.

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"The upcoming reform of the European Union telecoms framework should incentivise and leverage more private investment in next generation networks, provide regulatory predictability and the right conditions for all operators to invest", she said.

Telecoms companies have been complaining about the privileged status enjoyed by "over-the-top" (OTT) services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook's Messenger. Europeans have been particularly wary of data privacy at American tech firms after former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents showing how companies had worked with the government surveillance apparatus.

The report said that in addition to more security and privacy regulations, services like WhatsApp could be compelled to offer access to emergency numbers within their apps.

The Financial Times has seen documents which detail plans for these firms, which are mostly based in the U.S., to be required to abide by the same "security and confidentiality provisions" as traditional telecom companies. She said it would be wrong to define all of those services under a single definition of "electronic communication services" for the purposes of the e-Privacy regime.

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