'Over the top' messengers will be treated more like telecom companies
The EU is moving to tighten its regulatory control over messaging services like Skype and WhatsApp during a complete overhaul of its rules for the telecom sector.
The Financial Times has seen documents which detail plans for these firms, which are mostly based in the US, to be required to abide by the same "security and confidentiality provisions" as traditional telecom companies.
These services currently operate in a legal grey area, as the Union's rules have not evolved at the same pace as these technologies.
By offering messaging and call services, these apps are moving increasingly into services offered by traditional telecom companies.
It is reported that these changes will be announced in September.
Large telecom companies across the Union such as Telefónica in Spain and Orange in France and companies in the UK have been calling for these regulatory changes for years. They argue that companies like Facebook, Google and Skype's owners Microsoft have benefitted from light-touch regulations.
Separately the European Commission is also reviewing its online privacy laws - this will cover how these firms deal with requests from security agencies and how they make money by using customers' data.