miércoles, 9 de julio de 2014

Beyond #NetNeutrality (II): The winding road towards #DigitalNeutrality


Some weeks ago I wrote about the concept of "Digital Neutrality". In that post, I put forward the need to go beyond the concept of "Net Neutrality" on the Internet and define other kind of neutralities for the digital world, like "search neutrality" or "app neutrality". Behind that need, there is the requirement of establishing some basic principles for the algorithms that should respect the digital service providers.

The importance of establishing principles for the algorithms behind the digital service providers has been highlighted last week with the case of the facebook experiment called "emotional contagion". We have few knowledge of the news feed algorithm behind facebook. We can set up some parameters on it for our facebook page, but the possible controls are the alms that facebook gives us. But in the end, facebook is not going to provide us never total control, to begin with the social network does not allow us to receive an unfiltered feed. The same lack of knowledge about the facebook news feed algorithm could be extended to other cases, as the twitter "who to follow" recommendations algorithm.

The facebook case shows clearly the case of a clash of principles in the algorithms used by digital service providers. On one hand, the right of the service provider to make the research for improving its product. On the other hand, the ethics of an experiment with human feelings. It seems that facebook has no regrets about the experiment. What is more, they think it is enough with the inclusion of their right to research in the "Terms and Conditions" of the service. Taking into consideration the facebook approach, it is clear that there is a need to set up principles and limits for the inclusion of research rights in the  "Terms and Conditions" of the digital services providers. Only regulations could solve this kind clash of principles.

But the regulation of digital services is an slippy issue. We do not have the same experience as with the regulation of the physical world and this is being proved in many new laws on the information society. The last case is the EU Court sentence on the "right-to-be-forgotten". On one hand, after giving Google the power to decide on the cases there is a general complaint on its decisions. On the other hand, Google outsmarts the rule of the EU Court by providing an unfiltered search through "google.com". So in the end, the new regulation has little added value but its failure show as well the need to establishing principles for the algorithms behind the digital service providers.

Both cases, the facebook experiment and the implementation of the "right-to-be-forgotten", give us more reasons for "Digital Neutrality". There is a clear need to ensure that the competition and consumer rights principles (among others) will have the same prominent role in the digital economy. The question is how we tackle this need.

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palyginti kainas