How can interoperable platforms protect people’s privacy?

By allowing new market entrants to offer innovative digital products and services, interoperability can enable a vibrant digital services market that offers users more choice in terms of privacy. Currently, internet gatekeepers have little incentive to take account of users’ privacy because users often stay on their platforms for the sheer size of their existing user base.

As a result, the gatekeepers’ digital products and services are often based on maximising benefits for the operator, not for users. Some of the largest online platforms’ core business model is the pervasive collection and monetisation of user data for the purpose of selling it to advertisers. The lack of digital interoperability prevents the development of compatible, privacy-friendly alternatives that could enable users to move away from the platforms that dominate their digital lives today.

To further strengthen operational privacy protection, interoperability could be limited to firms and organisations that have contractually agreed to honour security and privacy requirements, and be independently certified to do so. However, such security and privacy requirements must not be used as a pretext by large platforms to refuse to interoperate, or to limit interoperability to a few large players that could form a cartel.