CJEU rules OTT VoIP apps are subject to EU telecom regulation

The Court of Justice of European Union (CJEU) ruled that services such as Skype, Viber, and Google Hangouts are under the scope of the European telecom regulation and must comply with obligations that apply to traditional telephone services, such as consumer protection, registration, and law enforcement to user communication. The decision was triggered after a Belgian court referred the question of whether voice-over-IP (VoIP) services such as Skype should be regulated as telecom services, to the CJEU. Skype has defended itself against the argument by stating that it only provides a software application which relies on an Internet connection to make calls to telephone numbers. The CJEU found that Skype assumes responsibility for transmitting calls to telephone numbers by charging consumers and entering into an agreement with telecom service providers to terminate calls. In 2018, the EU has extended telecom regulations to over-the-top (OTT) communications services, including VoIP apps in the EU’s new telecom code. However, the regulation will enter into force in December 2020.