THE PROMISES OF INTEROPERABILITY IN SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

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Abstract

Interoperability has been at the center of the regulatory debate surrounding digital platforms. Proponents of this regulation understand interoperability as a solution to market concentration, particularly in social media markets. The DMA in the EU and the ACCESS Act in the US both include interoperability provisions. Policymakers and academics have praised interoperability for its easiness of application and the low-level of involvement of the regulator that this rule would imply. Nonetheless, this belief collides with historical examples of interoperability regulation in telecommunications and platform markets.Contrary to this understanding, this dissertation develops four case studies that show that interoperability has not been easy to implement or police by regulators. The case studies include the Kingsbury Agreement granting this company a monopoly on the telephone market, the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and the Microsoft antitrust cased developed in the 00s'. These case studies show the complexities of implementing and designing interoperability regulations, particularly in three aspects: (i) Regulators struggled to determine the conditions under which interoperability will function; (ii) Regulated companies have a high-level of influence on how the mandate is implemented; (iii) Interoperability spurs judicialization, delaying its implementation. Implementing interoperability in social media platforms will not only face these complexities, but given the obscurity of social media platforms' operation and business models, implementing interoperability regulation will be even more challenging. By applying the lessons learned from historical experiences, it is clear that interoperability will be complex and cost-intensive to implement. This dissociation between how interoperability is being framed and the complexities of its implementation is a direct consequence of how interoperability proposals were designed. By distancing itself from what Werbach (2007) categorized as interconnection regulation and falling into a non-discrimination framework, interoperability proposals fail to account for competitors' needs, which undermines their chances of impacting social media markets. Framing interoperability as an easy-to-implement requirement not only undermines the possibility of promoting competition in social media markets. But it will also underfund regulators who would face a titanic task without the proper tools to conduct such a mission.

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157 pages
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Date Issued
2022-08
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Keywords
ACCESS ACT; Antitrust Law; Digital Markets Act; Digital platforms; Social media regulation; Telecommunications policy
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Committee Chair
Hay, George Alan
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Grimmelmann, James
Lasser, Mitchel
Degree Discipline
Law
Degree Name
J.S.D., Law
Degree Level
Doctor of Science of Law
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Government Document
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Attribution 4.0 International
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dissertation or thesis
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