Internet-based communications services such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, Apple iMessage, or Viber offer a host of advantages over the old-fashioned telephone, including, for their operators, exemption from the European Union's strict telecommunications privacy rules.

The European Commission wants to change that, and on Tuesday proposed new legislation to protect consumers' online privacy.

The move is no surprise: An early draft of the Proposal for a Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications leaked in December.

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