WhatsApp and Skype to face stricter EU privacy rules

The services of Facebook and Microsoft is likely come under stricter rules on handling customer data, extending the rules that now only apply to telecom operators

WhatsApp and Skype to face stricter EU privacy rules

Popular messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype are set to face strict new privacy crackdown from the European Union (EU), leaked draft of new proposals revealed.

The services of Facebook and Microsoft is likely come under stricter rules on handling customer data, extending the rules that now only apply to telecom operators, media reports said.

According to the document, the EU will force web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, called "Over-The-Top" (OTT) services, to ask for users' consent before directing advertising at them based on their browser history.


The new regulations are reportedly due to come into effect in 2018.

In addition to the prohibition of automatic processing of people's data without their consent, the new rules will introduce fines up to 4 percent of a company's global turnover, Reuters said.

It will also result in the removal of banners asking visitors for permission to place cookies on their browsers if the user has already consented through the privacy settings.

The draft said: "If browsers are equipped with such functionality, websites that want to set cookies for behavioural advertising purposes may not need to put in place banners requesting their consent insofar as users may provide their consent by selecting the right settings in their browser," the news agency reported.

"While such banners serve to empower users, at the same time, they may cause irritation because users are forced to read the notices and click on the boxes, thus impairing internet browsing experience," the draft added.

The new rules set to come after Telecoms companies’ continues complaints that Google, Microsoft and Facebook are more lightly regulated, although they offer similar services. The companies have earlier asked the EU to introduce specific to telecoms firms.

The latest step is part of the EU's revival of of its 'ePrivacy' directive that oversees everything in online privacy from marketing emails to online tracking.