Why is device neutrality important?
The biggest threat to net neutrality is the fact that big technology companies use their control over the “middle layers” as a way to control network use and access to third-party information and services.
These companies – which control stores, devices, and entire platforms – have progressively widened the gap between users and technology. This has resulted in the degradation of the information access value chain, which is increasingly used to impose their services without any control (browsers, default search engines, payment systems with no choice, own apps and services required without justification, etc.).They use their dominant position to gain a competitive advantage.
An extreme example of this behavior is their self-proclamation as intermediaries, causing developers themselves to assume that they have no right to establish direct communication, distribute without permission, or negotiate terms with their end-users without facing serious consequences.
Is #DeviceNeutrality a net-neutrality concern?
This discussion does resonate with net neutrality in its commitment to the principle of “innovation without permission.” This is the principle that everyone and anyone should be able to innovate on the internet without seeking permission from anyone, any entity, or other gatekeepers. This includes device, OS, and app store providers.
In many cases, the hardware, platform, or services are entirely owned by these companies, and are not even, strictly speaking, a monopoly. Why shouldn’t they have complete freedom to dictate their terms?
The way in which these companies interconnect their services and products means that from a mere dominant position, the freedom of users, developers and third-party companies is seriously affected.
Sometimes the same company that manufactures the hardware also develops the operating system, offers advertising, searches, its own apps, and even content. So without any external control, the user is left entirely unprotected.
Failure to comply with any arbitrary condition can have consequences in many different areas, such as rendering a project unviable, seriously affecting its business model, losing visibility or access to a very important portion of the market.
The major platforms claim that requiring neutrality principles would affect the security of their users. Could it be counterproductive to intervene in how they manage their stores and operating systems?
The principles of device neutrality aim to expand the decision-making power of users and developers, in no way forcing those who prefer to remain under the strict control of these companies to change their ways.
Security is provided by the operating system and the device itself, via built-in features that include data encryption and antivirus protection. Allowing side loading has absolutely nothing to do with disabling security features and app permissions. Side loaded apps can still be sandboxed and require permission requests like any store-gotten app.
Further, there is reason to believe that competition in this space would actually enhance security. Providing app developers and consumers with greater freedom and choice will significantly enhance security through competition and accountability.
But many users, out of mere ignorance, could be victims of an attack that ends up affecting the rest of the community if we allow them to choose from where to install an app.
The challenge is to provide a safe space without sacrificing the freedom of users and developers. Since the beginning of the history of computing, choosing the source of your apps has been a right. Even these same companies allow different degrees of freedom depending on the products (desktop, mobile, being present in third-party stores while vetoing others) without any claims of compromised security.
Google claims that Android is open to all. We already have other ways to install applications, apart from the official stores.
Anyone with an Android or iPhone knows that both Google and Apple make it exceedingly difficult — if not impossible — to download apps outside of their proprietary app stores. Apple essentially prohibits users from downloading apps outside of their Apple App Store. Google uses technical complexity to make downloading apps outside of Google Play incredibly onerous.
A walled garden is exactly what most users want and need. It should exist.
What we need is proper regulation; an enforced set of standards for the walled gardens to ensure consistency and interoperability, and an enforced set of qualifications for maintaining the right to access the un-curated parts of technology.
We should aim to expand the decision-making power of users and developers, in no way forcing those who prefer to remain under the strict control of these companies to change their ways.
Closed platforms are essentially good for developers.
Gatekeeping from Apple and Google is a barrier developers try to overcome every day – they decide who wins, who loses, and even who gets to play. This is an unfair barrier to indie devs.
Apple and Google are two of the worlds leading video games publishers, by virtue of them owning the App Store. And they simply have zero interest in preservation or backwards compatibility. They’ve killed thousands of games wantonly.
Why Device Neutrality is important for Free Software?
The number of devices on which users cannot run Free Software is exponentially increasing. The consequence is an increased loss of control over users’ technology. The objective of device neutrality is to enable consumers to bypass gatekeepers and enable a fair and non-discriminatory use of Free Software.
What exactly is the deviceneutrality.com movement?
From an independent position, this movement aims to promote a framework that will help establish minimum principles and serve as a reference for the various players in the industry.
The concept of device neutrality has been defined for years. We want to collaborate in its development, establish a debate on its foundations and work to make it as widespread as possible, making this information accessible and helping to implement concrete actions by users, developers, companies, startups, governments and regulators.
Who is behind the deviceneutrality.com movement?
Deviceneutrality.com is set up as a non-profit organization created by anonymous private individuals. The aim is to be managed entirely by independent industry professionals from outside the organization who share its values and adhere to them.
How can I collaborate with the movement?
If you feel comfortable and represented by the manifesto, give it all the diffusion you can: copy it, link it, translate it, share it, vote for it, etc.
If you’re an industry professional or company, you can communicate your willingness to adhere to the principles of device neutrality so that we can add you to the public list of supporters that will be added to the website.
If you think you can help or support the device neutrality movement in any other way, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.