Popular online messaging services such as Whatsapp and Skype face tight regulation as the European Union are expected to enforce a crackdown on data privacy.
The executive body of the EU, the European Commission, plan to publish a draft law on data privacy that will enforce the same security and privacy laws that currently govern SMS text messaging and phone calls to the use of instant messaging apps and internet-voice-call services.
This will mean “over-the-top” apps such as Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook, and Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, will have to comply with rules from security services that may change or even disallow the way they function. This may include regulations on how the company’s profit from customer data.
However, the tech industry is cautious about the potential follow-on effects the new regulations could have on new technologies.
Charlotte Holloway, the director of policy at TechUK, told The Guardian: “It’s not just OTT messaging apps that could be affected in such a move, but new and emerging areas such as the “internet of things” and smart city technologies.
“Commission officials must be vigilant to the unintended consequences of proposals which could undermine Europe’s future economic potential.”
The final draft is not expected to be published until the end of the year, and even then it will have to go through the EU legislative machine, agreement by the 28 EU member states, including the UK, and the European parliament.