Facebook’s WhatsApp, Apple’s FaceTime and Skype are all on the European Commission’s list, which would include tightening security regulations. After alluding to it last month, the commission is expected to release a revamped proposal of new regulations next week, which will likely include telecom and technology companies, some dubbed “over-the-top players,” possibly restricting how they use encryption.
There has been a long complaint by Vodafone, Orange and Deutsche Telekom that web groups, like Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft and Facebook, are not as tightly regulated as telecom, despite offering similar services and having made money using customer data.
Regulatory changes are anticipated to include how security breaches are reported, as well as backup plan maintenance and other service policies. Privacy policies may also be in question, as the commission began recently inspecting WhatsApp’s updated privacy policies.
Additional measures may include mandating that messaging platforms, such as SkypeOut, must offer a way to call in an emergency, for example.
Facebook has previously responded to the commission’s public consultation, saying it may “no longer be able to guarantee the security and confidentiality of the communication through encryption” as governments could restrict confidentiality rights on the grounds of security purposes. WhatsApp uses full-scale encryption.
The new proposal is seen as a conduit for more symmetry between European companies and U.S. tech firms.
Approval by the European Parliament and European Union member states is necessary for new regulations to become law, and analysts say new regulatory developments like these could cause further increase tensions between U.S.-based companies and the European Union, especially as the tax dispute between Apple and the European Commission continues.