Adversarial interoperability and other judo moves for handling tech monopolies

I have been arguing for a while that global-reach effectively monopolistic and must-use tech platforms such as Facebook and Amazon really shouldn’t be private corporations any more, much less private corporations licensed within a jurisdiction with a limited geographic area.

The nature they have now is better understood (I think) as global commons, i.e. the commons claim would have the same scope as their range of users and the range of people they have impact on. No subset of humans has any natural right to extract the time and attention of others (at the cost of those others) for their own private benefit.

At the point where the users in a network are creating the majority of the value in that network, they should have the right to share equally in the value they’ve created.

So … I’m enjoying reading articles like the following one.

Would love to discuss if anyone’s interested!

A New Set of Anti-Monopoly Tools for the European Union

These new EU leaks are part of this trend, and in them, we find a made-in-Europe suite of antimonopoly enforcement proposals that are, by and large, very welcome indeed. The EU defines a new, highly regulated sub-industry within tech called a “gatekeeper platform”—a platform that exercises “market power” within its niche (the precise definition of this term is hotly contested). For these gatekeepers, the EU proposes a long list of prohibitions:

  • A ban on platforms’ use of customer transaction data unless that data is also made available to the companies on the platform (so Amazon would have to share the bookselling data it uses in its own publishing efforts with the publishers that sell through its platform, or stop using that data altogether)
  • Platforms will have to obtain users’ consent before combining data about their use of the platform with other data from third parties
  • A ban on “preferential ranking” of platforms’ own offerings in their search results: if you search for an address, Google will have to show you the best map preview for that address, even if that’s not Google Maps
  • Platforms like iOS and Android can’t just pre-load their devices exclusively with their own apps, nor could Google require Android manufacturers to preinstall Google’s preferred apps, and not other apps, on Android devices
  • A ban on devices that use “technical measures” (that’s what lawyers call DRM—any technology that stops you from doing what you want with your stuff) to prevent you from removing pre-installed apps.
  • A ban on contracts that force businesses to offer their wares everywhere on the same terms as the platform demands—for example, if platforms require monthly subscriptions, a business could offer the same product for a one-time payment somewhere else.
  • A ban on contracts that punish businesses on platforms from telling their customers about ways to use their products without using the platform (so a mobile game could inform you that you can buy cheaper power-ups if you use the company’s website instead of the app)
  • A ban on systems that don’t let you install unapproved apps (AKA “side-loading”)
  • A ban on gag-clauses in contracts that prohibit companies for complaining about the way the platform runs its business
  • A ban on requiring that you use a specific email provider to use a platform (think of the way that Android requires a Gmail address)
  • A requirement that users be able to opt out of signing into services operated by the platform they’re using—so you could sign into YouTube without being signed into Gmail