EU is planning to extend telecom rules covering security and confidentiality of communications to web services such as Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp which could restrict how they use encryption
The rules currently only apply to telecoms providers such as Vodafone and Orange.
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.
Telecoms companies have long complained that web groups such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft and Facebook are more lightly regulated despite offering similar services and have called for the EU’s telecoms-specific rules to be repealed.
They have also said that companies such as Google and Facebook can make money from the use of customer data.
“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.
Under the existing “ePrivacy Directive”, Public Consultation on the Evaluation and Review of the ePrivacy Directive | Digital Single Market https://duckduckgo.com/?q=existing%20%22ePrivacy%20Directive%22, telecoms operators have to protect users’ communications and ensure the security of their networks and may not keep customers’ location and traffic data.
The EU rules also allow national governments to restrict the right to confidentiality for national security and law enforcement purposes.
Many tech companies such as Facebook and Google already offer end-to-end encryption on their messaging and email services.
They argue there is no need to extend the telecoms rules to web services and that the EU should not dictate how they protect their users’ communications.
Facebook, which uses full-scale encryption on WhatsApp, said in its response to the Commission’s public consultation that extending the rules to online messaging services would mean they could in effect “no longer be able to guarantee the security and confidentiality of the communication through encryption” because governments would have the option of restricting the confidentiality right for national security purposes.
Proposed changes in 2017 … Commission to propose reform of ePrivacy directive in 2017 – EurActiv.com
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