Arcep, a French regulator, has been demanding Microsoft to register Skype as a telecommunications operator in order to comply with local law. The regulator believes that the VoIP service needs to comply with the obligations of a normal telecommunications operator, such as the need to route emergency calls and integrate a system that would allow legal wiretapping on its service. Arcep has been trying to get Skype to become a telecommunications operator since April 2012.
Arcep contacted local prosecutors in Paris today in order to enforce its demands. Jean Francois Hernandez, an Arcep spokesperson, said, “It’s about the fact that when you act as a French operator that you have to register as an operator.” He also stated that “when” Skype becomes a local operator, it will be required to declare its earnings in France to tax authorities and be subjected to the local taxes.
Some telecommunication operators have chimed in with their own opinions as well. Stéphane Richard, chief executive of France Télécom, believes that Skype, and several other VoIP companies have an unfair advantage over regular telecommunications companies, where they are able to perform the same types of services without having to share the revenue. He said that by making Skype a local operator, the telecommunications industry would be a more “balanced regulatory environment”.
Microsoft has spoken with the French authorities and has stated that Skype is not “a provider of electronic communications services under French law”, and that they will work with Arcep in a “constructive fashion”. It should be noted that European Union law does not consider Skype or other VoIP services to be telecommunications companies, an issue that Arcep is currently questioning as well.