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Twitter, Vimeo, and others launch Open Internet Alliance for ‘fair’ regulation in Europe and elsewhere

Interoperability, decentralisation, and net neutrality are among the eight principles espoused by the OIA.

Twitter, Vimeo, WordPress parent company Automattic, social media network Jodel, and search engine Seznam have banded together to form the ‘Open Internet Alliance’ (OIA). The alliance looks to advocate for fair and progressive regulation in Europe and globally, according to its website.

“Our advocacy efforts may take multiple forms and will feature ad hoc participation from a range of companies and foundations. We’ll work on public position papers, open letters to EU institutions, appealing directly to policy officials, and we’ll endeavour to organise public events, panels or roundtables for interested audiences.” — OIA

The alliance’s first plan of action appears to involve the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This legislation could make the largest and most powerful companies even larger and more powerful, OIA said while adding that it should reflect principles of the ‘Open Internet’.

Keeping tabs on OIA would shed light on how Twitter and other tech platforms think about key tech policy issues.

8 principles: Regulatory unity, focus on amplification and not only takedowns, etc.

  1. Global regulatory alignment: “The Open Internet Alliance advocates for regional and global regulatory alignment to avoid disparate national laws and different consumer experiences,” it said, adding that there should be one open internet.
  2. Focus on content discovery and amplification: The current model of looking at maintenance and deletion of online content benefits the largest companies, OIA said while suggesting that regulations should instead address content discovery and amplification.
  3. Give consumers more control and transparency: Consumers should be given more control over algorithms, which in turn should also be more transparent, OIA said. It also sought greater ‘insight into the consumer experience’.
  4. Content moderation, data localisation impedes competition: “We prefer a competitive environment without significant barriers to entry,” OIA said. (Current) regulatory approaches such as content moderation, data localisation, consumer privacy, copyright, etc., entrench monopolies and permit anti-competitive practice, according to OIA.
  5. Policymakers should commit to safe harbour protection: Policymakers should commit to protecting intermediary liability or protect them from liability against unlawful third-party content they host as this would promote diversity, competition, and innovation – in accordance with (principles of) the open internet, OIA said.
  6. Net Neutrality: “The Open Internet Alliance fully supports net neutrality protections and condemns any form of blocking, slowing down Internet speeds, and engaging in the development of discriminatory fast and slow lanes on the Internet,” it said.
  7. Decentralisation through open APIs and more: The future of the internet should be through Open Application Program Interfaces (these essentially allow two different entities to connect) and decentralised public protocols through which new services could be provided by various interface providers, according to OIA.
  8. Do not lock in consumers: “The Open Internet thrives because of its open architecture, with interoperability between platforms, universal consistency and transparent standards, and consumer choice,” OIA said. Thus, it should not lock in consumers on a particular platform.

What is the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act?

Digital Services Act: The DSA will look at protecting user rights and instituting transparency and accountability frameworks for online platforms, according to the European Commission’s website. This would not only cover social media platforms but also internet service providers, app stores, ‘online marketplaces’ and others. The proposed compliance requirements are further classified as follows:

Source: European Commission

Digital Markets Act: The DMA looks to subject certain online platforms with established significance (such as a strong economic position, intermediation position, etc), dubbed as ‘gatekeepers’ in the act, to obligations that are supposed to lead to more transparency, ‘fairer’ prices, and so on, the European Commission’s website said. It further elaborated on the requirements as follows:

Source: European Commission

 

Source: European Commission

 

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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