Skype registers as telecom operator in Netherlands

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Skype has started registering with EU telecom regulators, after the EU Court of Justice ruled in June that SkypeOut should be considered a telecom service.
Dutch regulator ACM announced that Skype has registered for regulatory oversight in the Netherlands. 
The ruling means that VoIP services such as SkypeOut will be regulated under existing EU laws which cover areas such as privacy, registration, consumer protection and calling to emergency services, among others. Interestingly, similar services in the US that allow calls to phone numbers are either not subject to telecoms regulations or are very lightly regulated.

In a bid to bridge the gap between traditional telecoms operators and newer digital communications services, the European Commission had already released a new European Electronic Communications Code last year which expanded the definition of ‘electronic communications service’ to include the likes of Skype, WhatsApp and other VoIP services. The new rules will kick in December 2020.

According to legal analysis platform Lexology, the court ruling may also have implications beyond just telephone calling apps and apply to other digital services too. Since the existence of agreements with telecom providers has been one of the key reasons behind the ruling, the regulation may be extended to other digital services which charge users. In addition, the European Court of Justice is already examining whether email services such as Gmail and others should be covered under the same domain of electronic communications services and subject to telecom regulations.

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