Creativity & Innovation

Tell Your Representative to Support a More Interoperable Future

Interoperable plum

There are a few very large companies which have an outsized influence on our online lives. Having large companies with control over so much of our data is not working for users, not working for privacy or freedom of expression, and it’s blocking the normal flow of competition. Above all, these giants need to be pushed to make it easy for users to leave, or to use other tools to interact with their data without leaving entirely.

The “Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching Act of 2021” (or ACCESS Act) would do that. Tell your representatives to pass the ACCESS Act.

By enforcing transparency and consent, the ACCESS Act checks abuse of the data that large tech companies collect from us. It mandates that the largest online platforms make it possible for a user to leave that service and go to a new one, taking some or even all their data with them, while still maintaining the ability to interact with the friends, customers, colleagues and communities who are still using the service. Under the bill, a user can request the data for themselves or, after giving their consent, have it moved for them.

The ACCESS Act is one of the most exciting pieces of federal tech legislation this session. Today’s tech giants grew by taking advantage of the openness of the early Internet, but have designed their own platforms to be increasingly inhospitable for both user freedom and competition. The ACCESS Act would force these platforms to start to open up, breaking down the high walls they use to lock users in and keep competitors down. It would advance the goals of competition and interoperability, which will make the internet a more diverse, more user-friendly place to be.

What it will not do is break the internet or pose any more of a security risk than your fully interoperative computer does. It won’t force companies to host malware in their app stores, or force Facebook to send sensitive data to the next Cambridge Analytica. New data sharing can only happen with users’ informed consent, and the data shared with competing platforms can only be used to for the express purpose of interoperability—it can’t be re-shared, sold, or monetized in other ways.

Having control over your data and making it easier to leave the giant platforms are vital to getting to a future where a few large companies no longer hold all our information or dictate what we get to do. Tell your representative to vote for the ACCESS Act.

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