European Union (EU) member states failed to reach an agreement on adopting stricter privacy rules covering the handling of customer messages, calls and data by companies owning messaging apps, Reuters reported, noting this further delays attempts to offer parity with regulations covering operators.

The European Commission (EC) proposed tougher privacy laws in January 2017, which seek to prevent companies owning messaging apps, such as Facebook and Microsoft, from recording information including the location of the user or the time of the messages, with the exception of retaining information for billing purposes.

At a meeting in Brussels on 22 November, Reuters reported member states again failed to adopt the proposed new rules, citing disagreements over areas including regulation for tracking cookies, consent requirements, and detecting and deleting child pornography.

The EC’s plan was to expand the scope of a current ePrivacy directive beyond operators to all providers of communication services, meaning OTT messaging services including WhatsApp and Skype would be covered. However, the disagreements between member states means an initial goal of doing this by May 2018 had already fallen by the wayside.