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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html newsdate="2021-11-22">
<title>Digital Markets Act - the FSFE calls for Device Neutrality</title>
<h1>Digital Markets Act - the FSFE calls for Device Neutrality</h1>
On the imminent voting of the Digital Markets Act - the latest EU proposal on
internet platform regulation - the FSFE demands device neutrality as a
fundamental element for safeguarding consumer protection in open, fair, and
contestable digital markets.
While digital devices are a ubiquitous reality in all aspects of
life, control over the hardware and software running on them is increasingly
being limited by internet platforms, digital services providers, hardware
manufacturers, and vendors. The European Commission's <a
Markets Act (DMA)</a> is a regulatory instrument for targeting large internet
companies that act as gatekeepers in digital markets. Such gatekeepers may be
internet platforms, service providers, manufacturers, and vendors satisfying
criteria defined by law. This regulatory initiative is an attempt to
create fairer and more competitive markets for online platforms in the EU. On
November 22, the European Parliament's leading IMCO committee will vote on its
The FSFE urges the Members of the European Parliament in the upcoming vote to
safeguard device neutrality principles based on <a
href="/freesoftware/standards/">Open Standards</a> and interoperability,
securing the interest of consumers for a contestable, open, and competitive
digital market in the EU.
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<h2>Free Software and Device Neutrality</h2>
neutrality</a> translates as non-discrimination of services and apps by
providers, manufacturers, and vendors. The objective of device neutrality
is to enable consumers to bypass gatekeepers and enable a fair and
non-discriminatory use of Free Software in the application and operating system
layers of devices. The FSFE demands the inclusion of the following
principles in the DMA legislation:
<img src="" alt="Device Neutrality principles"/>
<figcaption>Device neutrality principles</figcaption>
<b>Strict end-user consent for pre-installed apps</b>. The DMA must impose on
gatekeepers the obligation to allow their customers to uninstall any
pre-installed software applications they provide on their services or with
their hardware. This means more restrictive rules for pre-installed apps,
providing users the same access privileges for both pre-installed and
alternative apps, and the possibility to uninstall pre-loaded apps;
<b>No vendor lock-in</b>. The DMA should enable side-loading of apps in
dominant operating systems, so consumers can install any compatible software
on their devices. The DMA shall require gatekeepers to permit third-party app
stores and code repositories that compete with their own. The law must
prohibit gatekeepers limiting the ability of end-users to switch between and
subscribe to different software applications and services. This prevents
gatekeepers from locking users into specific service providers;
<b>Interoperability of services based on <a
href="/freesoftware/standards/">Open Standards</a></b>. It is urgent
for the DMA to require gatekeepers to provide free of charge access to and
interoperability with the same hardware and software features accessed or
controlled via an operating system. This includes communication apps and
social media platforms. Interoperability should be defined by Open
<b>Real-time data portability</b>. The DMA should require gatekeepers to provide
real-time data portability for devices, so that consumers can switch from
one device to another - including operating systems - as smoothly as
<h2>Next steps</h2>
After the committee voting on Monday, 22 November, the proposal will incorporate the
approved amendments. Next up is the plenary voting to achieve the
final position of the European Parliament, planned for December. The FSFE will
continue to monitor the whole process closely and demand device neutrality to the full extent in
the legislative text, so users are empowered to control technology.
"The digital markets will benefit by the regulatory proposal of the DMA.
Device neutrality is fundamental for a fair, competitive, and contestable
market. We demand stricter consent rules for pre-installed apps, no vendor
lock-in, full interoperability, and real-time data portability. Free Software
and Open Standards are key to achieve these goals", says Lucas Lasota, the FSFE's
Deputy Legal Coordinator.
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<tag key="european-parliament">European Parliament</tag>
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