EU to Restart Push for WhatsApp Regulation, Skype Privacy


On Tuesday, the EU is restarting its impasse to tighten up regulations on the Internet phone and on messaging services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Messenger.

Since a proposal in January 2017, the European Union has struggled to revamp telecommunications privacy and data rules with a strong opposition of Member States and strong lobby by large-scale companies.

Europe aims to be the world leader in improving the oversight of large-scale technology companies, and the inability to agree on the so-called ePrivacy Oversight has created confusion.

“There will definitely be a new proposal to bring on the table,” said EU Telecom Minister Thierry Breton at talks in Brussels.

“I definitely believe that everyone want to do something if I understand you, but clearly you don’t agree,” said Breton, a former French finance minister.

Under current EU rules from 2002 only text messages or voice calls made by traditional telecoms, Twitter, Google and Skype are subject to strict privacy protection.

Ministers have been divided into a host of issues, including how to handle porn and online child abuse, as well as inspections of so-called cookies which advertisers use to track users.

The legislation includes enhanced spam bans sent via email or SMS without the permission of the client and mandates that WhatsApp and others supply law enforcement agencies with information.

Tech companies argue that the reform is unnecessary, since it replicates the EU’s GDPR, which has become the global benchmark for data protection and privacy online.

The EU executive Commission had hoped that the stalled effort to level the playing field could be breached, but ministers in Brussels again reaffirmed their divisions.

“I hope we can do so for three years now,” the irritated Luxembourg Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, who is also the Minister of Telecommunications, said to his fellow Ministers.

Breton said that all options were at table to fix the deadlock, but insisted that the EU “moves quickly… Europeans expect us to deliver.”

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.