Network neutrality is crucial to foster competition, innovation, and the creation of countless products and services that have yet to be invented and discovered. However, to ensure the Internet’s openness, it’s not enough to have a neutral network; the intermediate layers of apps and operating systems, which are the object of device neutrality, must also be neutral.
Device neutrality law states that the users have the right to non-discrimination of the services and apps they use, based on the control of stores and operating systems by hardware companies.
This document aims to establish a common, minimum framework to serve as a reference for individuals, companies, governments, and regulators committed to the future of net neutrality.
Internet users and companies adhering to this text DECLARE:
Assuming that smartphones are likely to be the first choice for consumers to access the Internet and that they’re a crucial part of the internet access value chain, the following principles must be guaranteed focusing on operating systems, app stores and browsers to enable users and developers to bypass gatekeepers.
More accessible and less discriminatory app stores
These are the gateway for consumers to access other content and apps. Leading app stores have an obligation to find a balance between the competitive advantage this grants them, and the responsibility to offer a transparent and neutral service to users. This means:
- Allowing and enabling access to alternative app stores to make them easily installable, including hosting and supporting rival stores with independent payment methods.
- Not linking, requiring, or bundling own apps or services that are unnecessary for the operation of the leading stores.
- Transparency in app store rankings and application discovery layer. Not favoring or giving preference to their own products and apps over third parties in their stores.
Transparency and data portability for operating systems
Access to operating system resources and features, as well as the browsers associated with them, are a common source of discrimination. In order to mitigate this , device neutrality requires:
- The possibility to side-load apps on mainstream operating systems to allow users to install any legal and secure app on their own devices without further intermediaries.
- Applications should generally have the opportunity to become full replacements of default applications.
- Greater user control and transparency to exercise consent for pre-installed apps. The same access privileges for pre-installed and third-party apps, as well as the ability to uninstall them entirely.
- The obligation to offer transparency on interfaces (APIs). Device and OS providers should not prevent app providers from accessing the functions they need to fully operate their services. Minimum notice periods in case those interfaces are changed preventing penalization for the integration of third-party services.
- The guaranteed right of data portability to make it easy for users to change devices or operating systems as smoothly as possible.
Device neutrality principles for integrated services and browsers
- The same standards must be guaranteed for own and third-party services, forbidding the misuse of private analytical data to compete with other products or provide more favorable terms to the products of leading manufacturers, operating systems, or search engines.
- Fair competition: search services (local to the device or web) may not deliberately position their own products above their competition to gain a competitive advantage.
- Promote the developers’ and users’ right to choose, not assuming preference for complementary elements such as the use of different search engines, browsers, app stores or alternative payment systems.
- Transparency between users and developers: making direct communication between them possible and without intermediaries, including the negotiation of prices, service conditions and offers.
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