Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Interoperability Should Be Simple

Unless you’ve been living under a technology rock, or simply don’t care, you can’t escape European legislation trying to cub technology companies. Investigating, charging and regulating the world's largest and most influential companies can be tough, but they seem to finally be getting a handle on things. Yet, what seems easy could be impossibly hard to achieve.

The latest round of legislation by the EU, termed the Digital Markets Act (DMA) aims to level playing fields dominated by a few companies. Despite containing many well-educated and thoughtful changes to current acts, including increasing the responsibilities of companies deemed large enough to be “gatekeepers”, the focus has been on messaging interoperability. The ability to send a message from one app to another.

Make sense in theory, doesn’t it. The EU want my messaging app to be able to send a message to anyone else's messenger app, and not be locked into using one companies service. People have long talked about iMessage lock in, which in Europe is substituted by WhatsApp lock in (which thankfully is available on every platform). Messaging should function as a universal or accepted standard. Take email for example, I can send the same message to another email address regardless if that is a gmail, hotmail or custom domain. The EU argue messaging should be the same, a user should not be restricted to what service they want to use.

Messaging is different though. It’s messy, controlled by big players and tech giants that either start up a service or buy a service that already has a large user base. With this kind of control comes benefits. Unlike phone calls, emails and sms messages that are all interoperable, the best messaging apps are encrypted — often end to end. So, interoperability is essentially impossible.

Perhaps that’s the point. The EU powers know that interoperability should be easy but is, in fact, a privacy breaking ruling of epic proportion. We already know that the powers in charge don’t like encryption, they love snooping on your information and arguing it's for your protection. They know that the average Joe won't care and only half understand the issues at hand. Instead, arguing for the ability to be able to message their friend on WhatsApp with their Telegram account.

Interoperability and big tech giants are not the real target, your privacy is, and they want the right to snoop on you. Sure, messaging should work like email, but the governments of your country made a world that requires your messages to be encrypted and are now breaking it with something ‘simple’.

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