Control Over Users, Competitors, and Critics | 004
Cory Doctorow joins EFF hosts Cindy Cohn and Danny O’Brien as they discuss how large, established tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook can block interoperability in order to squelch competition and control their users, and how we can fix this by taking away big companies' legal right to block new tools that connect to their platforms – tools that would let users control their digital lives.
In this episode you’ll learn about:
* How the power to leave a platform is one of the most fundamental checks users have on abusive practices by tech companies—and how tech companies have made it harder for their users to leave their services while still participating in our increasingly digital society;
* How the lack of interoperability in modern tech platforms is often a set of technical choices that are backed by a legal infrastructure for enforcement, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This means that attempting to overcome interoperability barriers can come with legal risks as well as financial risks, making it especially unlikely for new entrants to attempt interoperating with existing technology;
* How online platforms block interoperability in order to silence their critics, which can have real free speech implications;
* The “kill zone” that exists around existing tech products, where investors will not back tech startups challenging existing tech monopolies, and even startups that can get a foothold may find themselves bought out by companies like Facebook and Google;
* How we can fix it: The role of “competitive compatibility,” also known as “adversarial interoperability” in reviving stagnant tech marketplaces;
* How we can fix it by amending or interpreting the DMCA, CFAA and contract law to support interoperability rather than threaten it.
* How we can fix it by supporting the role of free and open source communities as champions of interoperability and offering alternatives to existing technical giants.
Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist and journalist. He is the author of many books, most recently ATTACK SURFACE, RADICALIZED and WALKAWAY, science fiction for adults, IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel; INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, a book about earning a living in the Internet age, and HOMELAND, a YA sequel to LITTLE BROTHER. His latest book is POESY THE MONSTER SLAYER, a picture book for young readers.
Cory maintains a daily blog at Pluralistic.net. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University, a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of North Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles. You can find Cory on Twitter at @doctorow.
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A transcript of the episode, as well as legal resources – including links to important cases, books, and briefs discussed in the podcast – is available at https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/11/podcast-episode-control-over-users-competitors-and-critics.
Audio editing for this episode by Stuga Studios: https://www.stugastudios.com.
Music by Nat Keefe: https://natkeefe.com/