Tech & Rights

Rights Groups: MEPs Should Ensure Interoperability In Digital Services Act

On 13 July, Liberties, Amnesty International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Global Witness, and Mirovni Inštitute sent an open letter to the LIBE Committee, asking for proper interoperability measures in the Digital Services Act.

by Eva Simon

As fundamental rights defenders, we argue for the need for horizontal regulation for interoperability obligations for core platform services, offering technical tools that allow internet services to connect with and retrieve information from one another.

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Interoperability would create new services with new content ranking and curating policies, and potentially creating new user interfaces, creating more competition, but also putting users back in control of online experiences. Proper interoperability rules would support media pluralism, freedom of expression and access to information as well.

Members of the European Parliament should support technological innovation and create rules that ensure users’ choice among different services and help speakers participate in public debates who are currently excluded by the existing-content moderation world of big platforms. On the other hand, strong privacy rules and GDPR enforcement must be connected to interoperability.

Here you can read our open letter:

Dear Member of the LIBE Committee,

Amnesty International, the Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties), Electronic Frontier Foundation, Global Witness, and Mirovni Inštitute Slovenia defend fundamental rights across the EU, and welcome the effort made to the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal, while a good start, has missed the opportunity to set down rules for interoperability requirements in the DSA. These rules are necessary to create a digital ecosystem in which the fundamental rights of the users are safeguarded.

The undersigned human rights and digital rights organisations are reaching out to you to ask your support related to the interoperability requirements.

We believe that interoperability should be regulated both in the DSA and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in a coordinated way. As we stated in our open letter to IMCO on 28 June 2021 regarding the DMA, interoperability is a key tool to make digital markets more dynamic and innovative by helping to break through the network effects that lead to a few gatekeepers dominating the user base, enabling competing alternatives to emerge, both within and between platforms. This in turn gives users meaningful alternatives when it comes to choosing which online services to use. Importantly, interoperability paves the way for alternative services built on a variety of business models, including more rights-respecting ones, to flourish. While the DMA proposal creates interoperability for ancillary services in DMA Article 6(1)(f), and interoperability of the advertisement repositories referred to in DSA Article 30(2), that is far from enough.

We need horizontal regulation for interoperability obligations for core platform services, offering technical tools that allow internet services to connect with and retrieve information from one another. Interoperability rules would ensure access to the uncurated version of services, including users’ content. Interoperability would foster new services with new content ranking and curating policies, and potentially creating new user interfaces, creating more competition, but also putting users back in control of online experiences. Proper interoperability rules would support media pluralism, freedom of expression and access to information as well. Members of the European Parliament should support technological innovation and create rules that ensure users’ choice among different services and help speakers participate in public debates who are currently excluded by the existing-content moderation world of big platforms. On the other hand, strong privacy protection, in particular rules on data minimization and user consent and GDPR enforcement must be connected to interoperability.

We ask you, as the members of the LIBE Committee, to foster interoperability, as set out in Recital (4) of the DSA, and foster freedom of expression and access to information as set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

We urge you to insist that interoperability obligations are horizontal obligations that also safeguard the fundamental rights of the users. Interoperability obligations for very large online platforms should be imposed both in the DSA and the DMA to enable cross-platform exchange of information. Therefore, we urge you to vote in favor of amendments 114 and 769 on interoperability on 14 July 2021.

Thank you for taking into account these considerations, and we remain at your disposal to further elaborate these policy recommendations.

Sincerely,

Eva Simon


Amnesty International

Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Global Witness

Mirovni Inštitute, Slovenia

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