New EU law could force large IM platforms to open up to each other

This week’s draft European Digital Markets Act (DMA) could force large platforms owned by tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook to make their decisions mutually compatible. This means messaging applications must allow interactions with other services.

Image source: Thomas Ulrich /

Image source: Thomas Ulrich /

If a company complies with the gatekeeper category under EU regulations, it will be eligible for “Structural or behavioral measures” – such a company can be forced to allow interaction with other players or impose a fine on it. And once again, such a company will face restrictions on what it can do with personal data of users.

The draft law carefully formulates the criteria by which a company turns out to be a “conduit” in terms of activities in the EU, and fines are calculated in relation to global revenues. The law applies to companies that provide “basic platform services” in at least three EU countries with over 45 million monthly users and 10,000 business users. In monetary terms, we are talking about € 8 billion per month within the EU and a market capitalization of € 80 billion.

The law will apply to “Number-independent interpersonal communication services”therefore, services that identify users by phone number rather than account, such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal, may be able to avoid the changes that are coming in the next year or two. Services exist today that can interoperate with the proprietary protocols of large services.

There are no technical obstacles to service compatibility. For example, Apple iMessage originally used the AOL OSCAR protocol, while AOL allowed authentication using Gmail credentials. Google Chat, Talk and Hangouts, and Facebook Messenger used XMPP – and Skype offered a gateway for that. As for systems based on telephone numbers, then there is already an RCS standard, which is now being developed.


About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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