EU Digital Markets Act & Social Media Platform Interoperability Enforcement

Yesterday there was a very interesting open meeting of the W3C Social Web Incubator Community Group that is responsible for the W3C ActivityPub recommendation and the innovation / evolution of the Fediverse (with currently about 4 million users). The main topic was:

To discuss the possible enforcement of interoperability of social media platforms by the EU in new legislation, and forming a lobby group to bring Fediverse open standards to the EU’s attention as candidates that enable this interop.

EU Digital Services & Digital Markets Acts

The EU is about to make decisions on two legal policies:

  • The Digital Services Act: Aims to “modernise the current legal framework for digital services”, and “will improve the way national authorities cooperate, to make sure the rules are properly enforced, throughout the EU”.
  • The Digital Markets Act: To “keep our markets fair and open to competition, it’s vital that we have the right toolkit in place.”

The latter has 2 pillars (see Speech by Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager: Building trust in technology):

  1. “The first of those pillars will be a clear list of dos and don’ts for big digital gatekeepers, based on our experience with the sorts of behaviour that can stop markets working well.”
  2. “The second pillar of the Digital Markets Act would put a harmonised market investigation framework in place across the single market, giving us the power to tackle market failures like in digital markets, and stop new ones from emerging. That would give us a harmonised set of rules that would allow us to investigate certain structural problems in digital markets. And if necessary, we could take action to make these markets contestable and competitive.”

What is very interesting in the Digital Markets Act is what is says about Interoperability:

Interoperability

The Commission views interoperability among online platforms as a means to establish a more competitive digital economy. This would allow users to choose between platforms more easily, enabling multihoming and preventing users from being locked into one platform due to strong network effects and a lack of competition. It should be recognized that interoperability can also be used by competitive rivals to free ride on the infrastructure and investments made by a platform operator in its proprietary ecosystem.

(source: scis.org - The Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, and the New Competition Tool)

The article itself gives much more background information on both acts:

The Digital Markets Act might force the Big Tech platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Whatsapp, etc. to be interoperable with each other.

Forming a Fediverse lobby group

The very first seeds of lobby group formation were laid in the SocialCG meeting yesterday. See the meeting minutes. If you are interested to know more, and participate in the efforts in any way, then visit the SocialHub forum where the activities are further elaborated for the time being:

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More background on interoperability issues related to the legislation effort:

We are pleased to present you the first research paper in a series of three by our OpenForum Academy Fellow, Dr. Ian Brown. In this series, Dr. Brown, a prominent cybersecurity expert, takes a deep-dive into how increased interoperability in the digital platforms landscape could help solve some of the Internet’s most intractable challenges.

“Interoperability as a Tool for Competition Regulation” analyses the notion of interoperability as such and in the light of the recent suggestion from the European Commission to use it as an ex ante mechanism for increasing competition within its Digital Markets Act. Dr. Brown explores the economic and social factors that come into play, contextualising them within recent policy developments and latest academic research.

Here is the full paper, downloadable as PDF:

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arrived at Berlaymont, can ask any of your questions later in the “Press Background Briefing via WebEx” -->

Hi @Sebastian, so nice to see you here. Welcome to HTC!

To anyone reading this, Sebastian has been the big initiative taker so far in getting these lobbying activities from the ground. Thanks a lot for your efforts, Sebastian!

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