EU to crack down on online services such as WhatsApp over privacy

Europe will publish draft law to ensure that online messaging services have privacy rules like those for texts and calls


WhatsApp, Skype and other online messaging services face an EU crackdown aimed at safeguarding users’ privacy, in a move that highlights the gulf between Europe and the US in regulating the internet.

The European commission will publish a draft law on data privacy that aims to ensure instant message and internet-voice-call services face similar security and privacy rules to those governing SMS text messages, mobile calls and landline calls.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP and prominent campaigner on data privacy, said: “It was obvious that there needs to be an adjustment to the reality of today. We see telecoms providers being replaced and those companies who seek to replace them need to be treated in the same way,” he said.

According to a draft policy paper seen by the Financial Times, the likes of WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, and Skype, owned by Microsoft, would have to abide by “security and confidentiality provisions”.

The policy paper, which is due in September, also outlines how these “over-the-top” services – where voice calls and messages are delivered via the internet – would have to comply with requests from security services, as well as regulating how they can make money from customer data.

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