A new seminal antitrust legislation has been proposed in the EU, which will go up for a final vote in the EU Parliament. There’s a whole boatload of measures in here, many targeting big tech. The first major one:
During a close to 8-hour long trilogue (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission), EU lawmakers agreed that the largest messaging services (such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage) will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request. Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice. As regards interoperability obligation for social networks, co-legislators agreed that such interoperability provisions will be assessed in the future.
This is exactly what should’ve been done ages ago, and I’m glad they’re finally getting to it. Messaging services have become incredibly important and vital communication tools in our modern societies, and they should not be used for lock-in and other anti-competitive practices. This is great news.
This will be interesting to see how it plays out. One of the problems with messaging federation is discovery. With email, there’s a standardised email address scheme for recipients, but with this comes the problem of spam, and with messaging on private platforms, this is often dealt with by means of having the ‘friends request’; you ask permission before you can send a message. This requires discovery, you need to be able to query who is available for messaging.