[Members] Messaging Interoperability initiative and the Digital Markets Act

E.M. emus at mailbox.org
Wed Jul 27 17:27:13 UTC 2022


> I'd be happy to help advise you and anyone else on this initiative.

Yes, I am interested as I am still some newbie in most aspects, is their a 101 how to interact with IETF topics and organisation in general?

Just follow and reply kindly to the maillists?

Jul 27, 2022 5:58:31 PM Peter Saint-Andre <stpeter at stpeter.im>:

> On 7/26/22 5:57 AM, Matthew Wild wrote:
>> Hi folks,
>> Yesterday I remotely attended an IETF meeting about forming a possible
>> new working group focused on interoperability between messaging
>> providers.
> 
> Thanks for attending that - I hadn't been aware it was in the works.
> 
>> Here follows a little report on that, and a little insight
>> into the potentially big changes coming for internet messaging
>> interoperability in the coming years.
> 
> Sigh, it's the same problem we've been trying to fix since the late 1990s.
> 
>> In case you missed it, the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) compels
>> so-called "gatekeeper" providers to open their doors to third-party
>> access, both for person-to-person messaging but also other
>> integrations (for example, maybe an application that allows you to
>> analyze or export your data).
>> A "gatekeeper" is defined by a list of criteria, but the policy makers
>> have crafted the criteria such that the definition applies to the
>> usual suspects in big tech, without actually naming them directly. So
>> this ultimately means Facebook, Apple, Google, and some others you
>> might not immediately think of (Sony was mentioned, for example). Any
>> small-medium sized independent XMPP operator certainly does not
>> qualify as a "gatekeeper" under the DMA's criteria.
>> In theory the DMA is great. As many of us know, Google especially, but
>> also others used to provide interfaces to their platforms using XMPP,
>> but gradually turned them off and restricted access to their
>> proprietary apps. The DMA is aiming to reverse this process, and
>> require them to open up again so that third-party services and
>> software can interact with their platforms
>> Rightly or wrongly, the DMA does not require them to use any specific
>> technology or standard to do this (it can be argued that doing so
>> would limit innovation). It is possible that some providers may choose
>> XMPP, while Matrix folk are pushing for Matrix to be used, but by far
>> the most likely outcome right now is that every provider publishes
>> their own individual custom API.
> 
> It's not exactly clear how that will enable interoperability.
> 
>> This has many people (rightly) worried that a lot of the potential
>> benefits of these providers opening up may be lost if nobody agrees on
>> a common standard. Every app, service and platform would have to
>> develop integrations specifically with every other app, service and
>> platform, rather than just implementing one API/protocol and
>> automatically gaining compatibility with every messaging provider.
>> In light of this potential future, the idea for a new working group at
>> the IETF is under discussion. This group would work to identify common
>> patterns across modern communication providers, and aim to, to some
>> extent, describe reusable interoperable building blocks that the
>> gatekeepers can utilize when opening up their platforms.
>> It is early days, and still at the stage of "what do we want to do"
>> and has not yet reached "how do we do it". There is also the reality
>> that even if we work on this, there is no guarantee that even one
>> gatekeeper would adopt it.
>> Interoperability also has numerous technical challenges, still. The
>> DMA requires that any API preserves common features like end-to-end
>> encryption. Traditional gateways and bridges between protocols have
>> always been free to translate between different wire formats, but with
>> communication data being encrypted end-to-end, this becomes
>> essentially impossible.
> 
> MLS might help?
> 
>> Issues such as spam prevention were also
>> raised as things that have come up as hurdles for large providers in
>> the past.
> 
> Indeed.
> 
>> If all this is the kind of thing you're interested in, and you want to
>> help potentially shape the future of interoperable messaging on the
>> internet, the authors have requested feedback on the initial problem
>> statement: https://www.ietf.org/id/draft-mahy-mimi-problem-outline-00.html
>> The mailing list can be joined at https://www.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/Mimi
>> Either way, I hope this small report was useful and interesting to people.
> 
> Both useful and interesting. Although I've pretty much dropped out of IETF work (aside from a few "bis" RFCs I'm finishing up), I'd be happy to help advise you and anyone else on this initiative.
> 
> Peter


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