Government in Spain to clamp down on revenue fees of app providers

app providers

Messaging apps to register as operators. Credit-Twitter

THE Spanish Ministry of Economy announced on Friday, September 11, the public hearing for the draft of the General Telecommunications Law to incorporate the new European regulations for app providers in the telecommunications sector.

The new legislation, which will not be in force until mid-2021, includes, for the first time, instant messaging applications and points new services for internet services in all territories of Spain.

Regarding instant app providers, such as WhatsApp, the law will recognise this service as a new section for telecommunications operators. Specifically, the new regulatory framework will designate them as unnumbered interpersonal telecommunications operators, differentiating them from telephone companies whose services are associated with a number line.

Therefore, it will mean that they will have to register in the Spanish telecommunications registry as operators.

This registry will oblige app providers to present an annual balance of income from their services in Spain. In addition, the new legislation includes that these platforms will then pay the telecommunications fee already paid by telephone operators.

The payment is equal to one per thousand of your income. The fine print is that the minimum limit to have to pay this fee is one million euros, to avoid that smaller companies have to assume the fee.

In addition, the Secretary of State is aware that many of these app providers can direct their income from subsidiaries outside of Spanish territory, which in practice would make it impossible for them to be charged. Other obligations, in addition to registration, which it imposes on these platforms is to guarantee the security and integrity of their services, as well as to improve transparency in their communications with the consumer.

Another section of the new law corresponds to a new regulation of universal internet service regardless of the territory where the client is located. In other words, it establishes the minimums that the operator must offer to consumers at an affordable price. 

The Secretary of State for Telecommunications, Roberto Sánchez, has pointed out that they do not want to impose a limit now that it is exceeded by the advancement of connection technologies.

Therefore, the minimums will be established in a catalogue of services that consumers in any Spanish town should be able to use. Among those that Sánchez has advanced, there are the following: mail, video calls, information, search engines, training platforms, trade in goods and services, or online banking.

The Secretary of State has linked this new catalogue of services to the new reality that COVID-19 has opened with teleworking or distance training. As a consequence of this new regulation, the validity of public cabins as a universal service disappears.

The objective of the Government is that the new regulatory text of the sector arrives at the beginning of the next year of Congress and that it can be approved in the second quarter of the year.

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Damon Mitchell

From the interviewed to the interviewer

As frontman of a rock band Damon used to court the British press, now he lives the quiet life in Spain and seeks to get to the heart of the community, scoring exclusive interviews with ex-pats about their successes and struggles during their new life in the sun.

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