The Spanish Government Wants Facebook WhatsApp to Pay the Operator Fee

Hülya Karahan:Production Editor

hulyacar2001@yahoo.com

Future change in the definition of digital platforms. The Government of Spain has presented this Friday the Draft of the General Telecommunications Law which includes, among its novelties, the obligation of companies that develop messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Telegram to register in the national registry of electronic communications operators.

A measure that opens the door to modify the definition of these platforms and that will entail the payment of the rate currently paid by traditional operators. The rule contemplates applying a rate of 1 euro for every 1,000 that enter per year, provided that they invoice more than 1 million euros in Spain. The government plans to approve the regulations in mid-2021.

This is one of the novelties included in the text of the new law, which also includes the obligation to communicate security measures “in accordance with the risks of their nature”. The regulations, which will be submitted to a public hearing from this Friday, include other changes such as the abolition of the booths and telephone directories of the universal service, a reinforcement of the protection of users, the modernization of the 112 emergency service or measures to facilitate a investment climate in the sector, among others.

The future law, which will be submitted to a public hearing from this Friday, will transpose the European code of electronic communications adopted in 2018 into the Spanish legal system. Executive sources have stated that the health crisis “has put in value” the telecommunications networks and they have considered that it is necessary to “promote access under equal conditions”.

The Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures, Roberto Sánchez, explained in a meeting that the new law will expand for the first time the scope of the regulation to the new types of agents that provide electronic communications services, for which the will create a new classification of operators. The companies in the sector will have to pay this fee, which is already paid by traditional operators, if they exceed one million euros in turnover for these activities. Sánchez has indicated that they are “fully aware” that these companies declare in Spain income that is lower than what they generate.

This is one of the great demands of telecommunications companies in recent years has been the cataloging of OTT services (“over-the-top”, for its acronym in English). One of the possible obstacles, however, is that the majority of the companies that own these tools operate outside of Spain and are generally free. For Borja Adsuara, an expert in digital law, “it is essential” that the regulation review is done from the citizens’ point of view “and not with the obsession to regulate sectors”, both traditional and emerging.

“Citizens do not care who provides the services, but that they are of quality and at a good price. And this will only be achieved if the provision of services and digital content is regulated in such a way that there is equal conditions for all those who want to provide them, ”he says. “It is the only way to generate fair competition between the companies that provide these services and content, which will be beneficial not only for users, but also for the development of the digital economy,” he says.

The law also includes other changes such as the abolition of universal service phone booths and directories, a strengthening of user protection, the modernization of the emergency service 112 or measures to facilitate an investment climate in the sector, among others.

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The Spanish Government Wants WhatsApp,Facebook to Pay the Operator Fee - /10

Summary

Future change in the definition of digital platforms. The Government of Spain has presented this Friday the Draft of the General Telecommunications Law which includes, among its novelties

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