European Union could force interconnection of messaging apps

Part of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) package of laws, tech giants such as Meta and Google could be forced to interconnect their messaging apps. So you’ll be able to send a message on WhatsApp to be received on iMessage, Telegram, Facebook Messenger or Google Messages, or whatever app the person on the other end prefers.

By hitting directly at the monopoly strategy of the big tech companies, the new European legislation could encourage the development of alternative messaging solutions, with any newly launched app enjoying early interconnection with established alternatives. So it won’t matter if you choose to use an app no one has heard of, since you’ll be able to send messages to anyone in your WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram contact list.

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Far from compromising the business model of companies offering such services, future DMA legislation could instead motivate innovation, with quality of service and overall experience becoming far more important than the “everyone uses WhatsApp” argument, so I don’t have a choice either.

On the other hand, the new rules would only apply within the EU, and it remains to be seen whether messaging platforms will voluntarily expand interconnection globally, or leave out users based in, say, the UK.

Another piece of bad news is that messaging network interoperability will only be mandatory at the basic functionality level. For example, you could send instant messages to a contact on another platform, but not emoji or files. Also, the option for voice or video calling will most likely not work between different networks.

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Another requirement under the Digital Markets Act is a choice of different app stores, including on the iPhone.

“This legislation will rebalance digital markets, increase consumer choice, and end some of the worst practices used over the years by big tech companies.”

Google could be forced not to promote its own local, travel or job services over rivals in search results

Apple will no longer be able to force users to use its pay service for app purchases+

The DMA package of laws will first go through a six-month implementation phase and will be applied across EU countries from 2 May 2023.

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