According to Digital Markets Law (DMA), which should come into force on March 7th, the main messaging services, namely WhatsApp, Messenger or iMessage “should open and interoperate with small messaging platforms if they so request”. Otherwise, Meta or Litter will be sanctioned by European justice.
Use for one-on-one discussions
With a month to go until the deadline, Dick Brouwer, director of engineering at Whatsapp, detailed the conditions of this interoperability for the Wired media. The feature is expected to arrive first in one-on-one chats, where users will be able to send text, audio or video messages and files across different apps. These chats will be separate from the main inbox, available in a new section called “third-party conversations”. Accessing group calls and chats can take several years.
The new functionality should also be optional: “I can choose to participate, or not, in opening message exchanges with third parties, said Dick Brouwer. This is important because it can be a significant source of spam and fraud.”. A pop-up confirming or denying the choice will appear when the option is launched.
Security and privacy concerns
Although several services are brought together in a single application, third-party messaging will not be in the same boat as the native system. According to Dick Brouwer, the new system “does not provide the same level of security and privacy protection”. A difficult harmonization, because not all messaging services use the same data encryption protocol. WhatsApp uses the Signal Protocol, used by the platform of the same name. Otherwise, only the “Secret Conversation” mode of Messenger and the Google Allo application use this same protocol.
In turn, companies that want to be interoperable with goal will have to sign an agreement whose conditions have not been made public. And so far no company has officially announced that it will work with WhatsApp. For companies that have made end-to-end data encryption their creed, interoperability can require significant engineering work.
An observation shared by Dick Brouwer himself: “It’s harder to scale an open network”confidential, specifying that possible changes to the code could “create an unexpected cascade of data privacy and security issues.”