miércoles, 24 de enero de 2018

Net cynicism

On the end of 2017, the battle on net neutrality was reawaken. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. The FCC decision to repeal the Open Internet decision approved in 2015 that ended the enforcement on net neutrality was welcomed by network operators and  criticised by digital platforms. 

The rationale behind those defending net neutrality is the need to guarantee equal opportunities to compete between those who use the internet resources, wether or not they are network providers. Imposing a ban on establishing preferences for the apps using the network prevent that internet providers could act as gatekeepers for the digital economy.

But this is not just another article on net neutrality, but an article on net cynicism. To begin with, let´s done some changes on the definition on net neutrality and start talking about app neutrality. App neutrality is the principle that digital platforms must treat all apps within their environment the same and not discriminate or charge differently by user, design or purpose. The about app neutrality is the change on the subject who is obliged to respect it, which are the digital platforms who call for net neutrality. 

The problem with the enforcement of app neutrality is the subtle forms of some of its violation. For instance, we all agreed with the idea that data is valuable, therefore taking advantage of the full knowledge of app activity on a platform is an indirect charge on the app developer. So the business model of Facebook would violate the app neutrality principle unless the platform provide with an open API to access all the information about any app activity to all the apps developers at the same cost that Facebook use this API for its services.

Something similar could be applied to app stores run by Apple or Google. Both manufacturers have established rules for including apps in its distribution system. The impact of these rules is appreciated with any slight change of them, however there is not a report published regularly of the apps that are banned and the reasons for it. Furthermore, there is not transparency on the results of the acceptability tests for the apps developed by the owner of the appstores.

None of the questions on app neutrality are put on the table by digital platforms jointly with the debate on net neutrality. That is what I called net cynicism.

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