The Government wants WhatsApp, Telegram and others to pay the operator fee, but there are many doubts about how it will work

The Government of Spain, chaired by Pedro Sánchez, has presented the telecommunications bill, a measure framed in the Digital Spain 2020-2025 project. One of the most important novelties of the new law, which will have to go through the usual parliamentary process, is that the Executive wants instant messaging services, among which WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Telegram stand out, to pay a fee.

This novelty is due to that the Government wants these services to be considered operators. The fact that they were considered in this category would make them have to pay, as traditional operators already pay.

All are doubts with the blueprint

The operator fee came into effect in 2014, and is thus formulated in the text that would replace the preliminary draft:

“Every operator will be obliged to pay the General State Administration and its public bodies an annual rate that may not exceed 1 per thousand of its gross operating income and that will be used to defray the expenses that are generated, including those of management. , control and execution, by the application of the legal regime established in the Law 9/2014, of May 9, General of Telecommunications “.

According to Roberto Sánchez, Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures, the meaning of the change at the legislative level is that WhatsApp and Telegram have “changed the way we consume communication services”.

According to the blueprint, Interpersonal messaging companies that want to operate in Spain will have to register in Spain as operators, and pay the fee based on your billing. If the threshold of one million euros of income is exceeded, they will have to pay one euro for every thousand euros entered. The big question that exists in this regard is what services they would have to pay for, because for example, neither WhatsApp nor Telegram generate income directly.

They would only have to pay for services that bill more than one million euros in Spain, something strange given the free nature of most platforms

Roberto Sánchez has specified that the billing threshold will not apply to parent companies. That is, even if Facebook exceeds one million euros in revenue, if WhatsApp does not do so in Spain, the messaging service would be exempt from paying the fee.

In addition to services to courier services, the draft would also affect video calling services such as Skype, Google Duo or Zoom, and these, for example, can have higher billings with their business services. Social networks such as Instagram or Twitter, which have messaging but not as the core of their use will not be affected by the rate, because the law considers them “auxiliary services”.