Online / 5 & 6 February 2022


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. In order to remediate this situation, the FSFE has been working with the concept of Device Neutrality, understood as a policy principle that ensures users equal access and non-discriminatory use of their devices. The FSFE has advocated for four main principles: stricter consent rules for pre-installed apps, no vendor lock-in, full interoperability, and real-time data portability. The talk will explain the concepts and the challenges ahead.

While digital devices are a ubiquitous reality in all aspects of life, control over the hardware and software running on them is increasingly being limited by internet platforms, digital services providers, hardware manufacturers, and vendors. Several policy and legal concepts have been developed by the academic sector in cooperation with regulatory bodies and courts to tackle this issue in the EU.

The whole debate boiled down to principles that have been included in the EU's major overhaul of internet law: the Digital Markets Act. Device neutrality is a policy term that translates as non-discrimination of services and apps by providers, manufacturers, and vendors. The objective of device neutrality is to enable consumers to bypass gatekeepers and enable a fair and non-discriminatory use of Free Software.

The talk will explain the four main demands the FSFE has been leveraging in the public debates and legislative processes: * Strict end-user consent for pre-installed apps; * No vendor lock-in; * Interoperability of services based on Open Standards * Real-time data portability


Lucas Lasota