EU wants to break open large chat services such as WhatsApp and iMessage

The European Parliament and the European Commission have reached an agreement on the Digital Markets Act. Part of the outcome is that the large messaging services such as WhatsApp must offer interoperability with smaller services.

If smaller chat platforms ask for it, major messaging services need to open up and provide interoperability with the smaller messaging platforms. That is one of the results of hours of consultations by European legislators on Thursday. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage are mentioned as major messaging services. The step means that users of smaller services can exchange messages and files with users of the aforementioned large services. According to the European authorities, this increases citizens’ freedom of choice. In the future, the authorities will discuss whether interoperability between social networks should also be introduced.

Breaking open chat services is one of the components of the Digital Markets Act. The European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission reached an agreement on Thursday on the rules that should limit the market power of some large tech companies. These are so-called ‘gatekeepers’ who have a ‘significant impact on the internal market’, who operate gates for access to customers and who occupy or are going to do so in a sustainable position. In addition, the EU sets requirements for the annual turnover and the number of users in order to qualify as gatekeeper.

The European Parliament has stipulated that the gatekeepers may only combine personal data of users for targeted advertising after the explicit consent of that user. Furthermore, it has been added to the text of the rules that users must be free to choose browsers, speech assistants and search engines.

The agreement does not mean that the Digital Markets Act is in effect yet. The bodies still have to work on the final texts and the European Parliament and the Council still have to officially approve the Digital Markets Act.

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