Digital Markets Act, lets talk interoperability

18 November 2022

DMA, the obligation of interoperability between platforms

The Digital Markets Act is not new in this blog. A few months back we already published a brief note about this EU regulation, at that time still a draft. At a glance, the DMA is a piece of regulation enacted by the European Union that aims to create a “level playing field” between the various actors of the digital economy. To achieve so the EU is imposing obligations on those incumbent companies (also called “Gatekeepers”) with the goal of protecting users freedom and also foster competition and innovation. There are many topics and obligations that affect various platforms such as browsers or streaming services but, there is one specific obligation that affects the big companies providing communications services that is worth mentioning. We talk about the obligation to interoperate with third party services.

What happens next?

The day has come, the DMA, UE 2022/1925, just became effective (at 01/11/2022) and even though we don’t know yet who are those “Gatekeepers” I think it is fair to ask, What’s gonna happen in the near future?

Well, as soon as the law came into force a 6 month compliance period started. During that time, those companies that meet the set of requirements that makes them be a  “Gatekeeper” shall notify the European Commission in order to be added to a public list of Gatekeepers that includes both the company and the services that are affected by the regulation. Nevertheless, there are situations on which the general period of adoption varies. This is the case of the obligation to interoperate that is implemented progressively:s

  • During the first 6 months the gatekeepers shall grant interoperability of 1:1 instant messaging and data sharing (images, voice message, archives,…);
  • In the case of multiparty messaging and data sharing the compliance period is 2 years;
  • Lastly for voice and video services companies have 4 years to comply.

The protocol challenge

We are months/years from platform like Meta (Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Instagram…) or Microsoft (MS Teams) to open the iron curtain and give third parties interoperability with their systems. They way to do so is via APIs that each service must provide and that guarantees access in a non discriminatory way. This is, no questions asked, really interesting news. New use cases, competitors and for sure innovation is going to happen.

However, there is one thing that needs to be addressed, the EU does not provide a standard protocol for all the services to interconnect. This creates a situation on which guaranteeing security and end-to-end encryption becomes more difficult. Things like where transcoding and re/encryption happens or which protocols are to be used on each situation. A matter that becomes extra complex in cases like multiparty and multiservice chat groups. The priority must be keeping users and information safe in every circumstance.

Omnichannel for real

The DMA is creating an environment on which communications and therefore omnicanality is the centre; new solutions and use cases that allow for focusing on the experience independent of the platform will arise. Innovative business models, new competitors means innovation and change in the sector. All of those novelties will need to deal with the threat of cybersecurity and new attack vectors meaning that all interoperability between platforms have to be robust.

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