Device Neutrality: Openness, Non-discrimination and Transparency on Mobile Devices for General Internet Access
66 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 8, 2021
wo decades after the net neutrality debated started, the internet ecosystem has evolved and additional gatekeepers have emerged. In order to access content from content and service providers (CSPs), consumers have to pass through a whole internet access value chain, comprised of broadband providers, device manufactures and online platforms. Today online platforms, such as search engines, online marketplaces and other online intermediation services also play an important role in the consumer’s discovery and choice of CSPs. Likewise, devices (such as smartphones and connected speakers) and the software (such as operating systems and apps) that runs (or does not run) on them can significantly impact the consumer’s access to and choice of online services. In this report, we discuss whether, ‘openness’, ‘non-discrimination’ and ‘transparency’, which are the key pillars of net neutrality regulation, should be regulatory principles that also apply at other layers of the internet access value chain and specifically to certain types of devices. Most of our recommendations are very much in line with a number of new provisions that were included in the proposed DMA, which was published by the European Commission after we had started this study. The relevant provisions are Articles 5b, 5c, 5f, 6b, 6c, 6d, 6e, 6f, 6k and 6h. Generally, we concur with all of these provisions, but make a number of suggestions on how these may be adapted or specified in the context of devices in order to avoid unintended consequences June 2021 | Device neutrality: openness, non-discrimination and transparency 8/65 and in light of our findings in this report. We also show that almost all of these provisions would need to be specified further, including some of the Article 5 provisions, although these are deemed to be self-executing by the Commission.
Keywords: smartphones, smart devices, regulation, Digital Markets Act, net neutrality
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