Parliamentary committee to discuss regulation of WhatsApp and Skype - htxt.africa

edited January 2016 in Site discussion

imageParliamentary committee to discuss regulation of WhatsApp and Skype - htxt.africa

A committee will meet at the end of January to decide how to define WhatsApp and other over-the-top services.

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Comments

  • GtStevensonGtStevenson Centurion, South Africa
    Really don't get why these services should be regulated
  • @{GtStevenson} I've written about this quite a bit in the past - the most convincing argument was given to me by the African policy head for GSMA http://www.htxt.co.za/2015/08/18/telkom-couldnt-give-away-llu-if-it-wanted-to-gsmas-african-head-on-tvws-regulation-and-more/.

    I have some sympathy for the mobile operators in this - basically they have to pay for a licence, interconnect fees & obligations and compliance to operate an SMS service (and in some countries SMS are taxed too*), so they see WhatsApp et al as competing unfairly. As far as I know, MTN (or AN Other licensed network operator) couldn't even launch a free WhatsApp rival without being compliant with the same rules around provision of service etc because it's already a licensed operator.

    They aren't incorrect in this. It is unfair. The answer, of course, is less regulation not more - and secretly I suspect this is what they're after. The whole "they don't pay for the infrastructure so they shouldn't use it" line is patently bull, and if they get what they're asking for then we're all in trouble.

    The end game that would make sense would be to recognise that SMS is essentially just another messaging service now, and take away any special provisions in licences around it (simplifying a lot here). If the networks actually get what they're asking for then suddenly we've got a whole lot of pointless regulation, extra expense and government interference in the internet. Which is bad.

    * This argument I have a lot of sympathy for. It really is unfair (and bad for us all) that Uber, Facebook, Google, Netflix etc can essentially offer better services for less than local competitors because they don't pay tax here. Not only are we losing out on tax revenue, they aren't paying much tax any where because they have the resources to HQ in Ireland etc. How was Zapacab supposed to compete, for example, when its overheads are automatically higher. This is a different argument though, which I'm happy to continue another time...
  • "but neither country has resolved anything" Not really a surprise how do you regulate an effectively infinite number of services almost none of which have any "presence" in your country.
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