WhatsApp Beta Tests Third-Party Chat as EU Regulation Looms

WhatsApp, a subsidiary of Meta (formerly Facebook), has introduced a new screen for a feature called “third-party chat” in the Android beta version of the app. While not yet active or accessible to users, this development suggests that WhatsApp is exploring a messaging feature that integrates with other messaging applications.

EU Digital Marketing Act Implications: This move by WhatsApp comes in the wake of the European Commission designating it as a “gatekeeper” under the EU Digital Marketing Act. The Act mandates that communication software, including WhatsApp, must integrate with third-party messaging apps by March 2024. The primary goal is to prevent gatekeepers from imposing unfair terms and to ensure interoperability among essential digital services.

App Store Developments: As a response to the Act, both Meta and Microsoft are planning to establish their own mobile app stores. This move is likely aimed at complying with the Act’s provisions and maintaining control over their app ecosystems.

Investigations into Other Tech Giants: Furthermore, the European Commission is currently investigating whether other tech giants, such as Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing search engine, H Browser, and advertising service, fall under the scope of the new law. This demonstrates a broader effort to ensure fair competition and open access to digital services in the European market.

The development of the third-party chat feature in WhatsApp Beta version reflects the evolving landscape of digital regulation in the European Union and its impact on major tech companies and their services.

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