May 25, 2022

Google has declared its commitment to mobility, and tomorrow it is expected to spend $3 million and “hundreds of hours” of its engineers’ time over the next five years building on existing (sometimes very lengthy) initiatives in this area. as the 2018 Open Source Data Transfer Project (DTP), to which Google contributes.

The move comes at a time when lawmakers in many jurisdictions are paying more attention to barriers to service switching and interoperability — and are looking for ways to address such frictions to spur competition from digital markets. competition reform and enforcement, or a combination of the three.

In its blog post announcing the extra time and money spent on portability — “to help expand open source libraries that provide more types of data transfer and allow more businesses and organizations to participate in building DTP” — Google also sets out a number of policy priorities. his own. The sector may be trying to transcend the law and influence the shape of the rules and regulations in the making.

For example, in the European Union, lawmakers are working on the finer details of the Digital Markets Act (DMA): pre-competition that will apply to the most powerful internet middleware platforms (also known as “gatekeepers”), which will almost certainly apply to Google and will include a long list of operational requirements, including provisions for interoperability, as well as several other behavioral requirements.

Outside the EU, other countries and territories are also exploring behavioral measures and/or are already implementing antitrust enforcement already aimed at unlocking digital markets by forcing the tech giant to be more open. From Australia to South Korea to the UK. name a few.

Whereas in recent years in the US, the FTC has explored mobility through the lens of consumers and competition. (And Google is also facing multiple antitrust charges domestically.)

In a blog post, Google promises to continue to improve existing portability tools such as Google Takeout, including “adding new ways to transfer your files to various services using DTP technology”, noting that this copy exports 8.2 million files per month on average. . Over 400 billion files were exported in 2021, which they say doubled compared to 2019).

It also states that it “will continue to support organizations and researchers working on mobility and interoperability and will work with them to develop industry-wide standards and guidelines on this important topic.”

Google prioritizes portability in terms of three “key principles”: while claiming to focus on consumer needs while maintaining “standards for the most common data types”, portability of popular services such as photos with a goal will speed up playlists and contacts.

Of course, Google will benefit if it is easier for Spotify users to transfer all their media to Google Photos, for example, than to transfer their playlists to Google Play Music or Instagram users, even if portability goes the other way. it’s worse. To switch your own users.

Considering, unsurprisingly, the second “key tenet” that Google is lobbying for here is precisely that portability is mutual: “Platforms that allow people to import their data should also allow them to be exported.” writes, claiming that it “encourages people to try out new services without the risk of losing their data.”

There is reason to fear that this will not always be the case. For example, the latest EU data reuse proposal, the Data Law, aims to increase competition in the IoT space by encouraging more data sharing between connected devices. However, there is a specific provision in the bill that platforms that are considered gatekeepers under the DMA will not be done To avoid the risk of further consolidation of its market power, to be able to use the law to obtain data from third parties. So Google is likely to be blocked from these future IoT data streams.

Mountain View’s third alleged “core principle” was articulated as an emphasis on “privacy and security,” with the tech giant saying portability rules would “protect against unauthorized access, misuse of data, and other forms of fraud.” – and, in particular, to suggest that there be “account authorization, encryption and delayed delivery.”

This, too, is familiar territory for edtech giants, who are looking to turn fears about their vast bargaining power into a new strategy to keep their revenue gap alive by imposing favorable caps on upcoming regulations.

For example, Facebook has often warned that portability is “difficult” to achieve and could jeopardize user privacy, including arguing that the Cambridge Analytica scandal was just as (!) bad as being too open. For the privacy and security of people.

Google is equally interested in influencing the scope of the portability law so that it can re-introduce significant selective tensions under the guise of “privacy and security” so that it can take advantage of its vast resources. Providing portability rules in such a way that he can maintain a competitive advantage over less equipped competitors who cannot afford to spend so many resources on hoop jumps. Or does it look like a goal?

So the blog post talks about supporting “responsible” data portability; and says he is “not waiting for a legal mandate”. Of course, Google will be building its own version of a data-driven future, no different from its current self-regulatory regime, instead asking lawmakers to set data portability parameters for it.

Like Facebook, Google is quick to use the privacy statement as a tactic to circumvent regulations that could bring real competition through data access, even if it is leg draw About giving privacy to internet users from their own data mining and ad targeting empire.

Lawmakers with such dishonest tactics from big tech companies seem very wise, but as the EU privacy campaigners can tell you, it took a whole village and years of hard work to try and enforce the rules against the tech giants. So Google and other giants- gatekeepers can count on some adverse regulatory frictions that are of great importance.

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