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EU will require iMessage, WhatsApp to communicate with smaller messaging services

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On Thursday, the European Union announced plans to enact new legislation that would demand major messaging services — including iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger — to send and receive messages, calls, videos, and files from smaller competitors.

The rule, part of the larger proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) would require major messaging platforms to allow their services to work with smaller messaging platforms. Services that would need to work between platforms include sending messages, making video calls, and even sending files.

The rule would apply to any company that has at least 45 million monthly active end users and 10,000 annually active corporate users in Europe as noted by TechCrunch.

Failure to comply with the new legislation could see violators incurring fines of up to 10% global annual turnover or up to 20% for repeat violations.

This has induced questions about the security of such an interoperable platform. Andreas Schwab, the European Parliament's Rapporteur for the file, believes it can be done safely.

"The Parliament has always been clear that interoperability for messaging has to come," Andreas told TechCrunch. "It will come — at the same time, it also has to be secure. If the Telecoms Regulators say it is not possible to deliver end-to-end encrypted group chats within the next nine months, then it will come as soon as it is possible, there will be no doubt about that."

The legislation would also force platforms to allow users to choose which web browsers, search engines, and virtual assistants they use.

The DMA has yet to be finalized, pending approval of the legal text by the Parliament and Council. Currently, there is no suggested timeline for when implementing interoperable features would need to occur.

Back in November 2020, Big Tech firms, including Apple and Google, were invited to participate in talks about the DMA.

The DMA's primary goal is to curb anti-competitive growth for tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Meta (formerly Facebook Inc.) It is the same legislation that suggested Apple allow alternate app stores to enable fair competition on its platforms.