The Strategist

European Union to tighten control over Viber and WhatsApp

08/15/2016 - 14:32

In September, the European Commission will announce introduction of tighter requirements for online services such as WhatsApp and Skype. According to internal documents of the European regulator, which got at disposal of journalists from FT, the new rules supposed to bring the messengers into accordance with "standards of security and confidentiality" set in the EU.

Álvaro Ibáñez
Álvaro Ibáñez
The European Commission (EC) is preparing a next step in tightening rules of operation of telecommunication on-line services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype. The Financial Times claims its correspondent got hold of internal documents of the EC. They state that the regulator is going to announce introduction of 'safety and privacy standards' for such companies in September. In particular, they will involve cooperation with the EU security services and regulation of earnings on the user database.

First of all, this decision will affect American companies that dominate the sector, such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google. The European legislation provides clear rules for traditional telecommunications companies. Online services, meanwhile, enjoy relative freedom in terms of the regulatory environment, at which their competitors have grumbled for many years. In particular, French Orange and Spanish Telefonica have repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with this matter.

The European Commission intends to introduce regulations for online services at the end of this year. For example, companies that allow telephone connection via Internet, will be subject to the same regulatory standards as traditional telecommunications companies in Europe. Among other things, they will be obliged to provide access to emergency services. At that, this rule does not affect those services that allow users to call each other without use of phone numbers, like Skype, said the publication.

Earlier, WhatsApp Messenger, owned by US corporation Facebook, introduced a "terminal" encryption for all of its users, the number of which today is more than 1 billion people. 

"Safety of users’ data and their communication in messenger have always been a priority for WhatsApp. Today, we are pleased to announce that we have completed technological development that makes WhatsApp leader in protecting your private correspondence: full "terminal" encryption", - states a message on the company’s website.

The developers introduced a new method of data protection, when the original voice, text, photos, videos and any other information transmitted through a communication channel can be read only by the sender and the receiver, and thus cannot be intercepted by third parties - whether it's cyber criminals, hackers, authorities or employees of WhatsApp. This type of encryption is available now for all WhatsApp users updated to the messenger’s latest version. It also spread to group chats.

WhatsApp founders consider the encrypted conversation "the future of personal communications". Encryption is one of the most important tools used by governments, companies and individuals to ensure safety and security of data in the new digital era, wrote the messenger’s creators Jan Koum and Brian Acton.