In its new opinion on the Digital Services Act, the European Data Protection Supervisor has recommended the upcoming Regulation to include “explicit obligations on very large online platforms to support interoperability, as well as obligations not to take measures that impede such interoperability.”
The EDPS’s call for mandatory platform interoperability not only focusses on its positive impact on competition, which would potentially place the idea into the Digital Markets Act rather then in the DSA. The EU agency emphasises that interoperability can address a number of other harms, such as such as algorithmic amplification, that the DSA attempts to solve — because those harms are often “exacerbated due to the closed nature of very large online platforms, which limit the ability of users to communicate across platforms.”
As solution, the EDPS proposes to draw up technical interoperability standards at EU level which very large online platforms would be obliged to support under the DSA. The Commission’s DSA proposal already contains a sound definition of “very large online platforms” that includes all online platforms that provide their services to “a number of average monthly active recipients of the service in the Union equal to or higher than 45 million”, a number that would be counted using a pre-defined methodology.
Existing European standardisation bodies and data protection authorities could be well-placed to certify current and new interoperability standards while ensuring their openness, fair application, and appropriate levels of security and data protection.
Jan Penfrat is Senior Policy Advisor at European Digital Rights (EDRi).