GLIAnet FAQ Series, Part Six

 

Q.  OK, so I think I’m sold on the value of having a trustworthy  and accountable intermediary to help protect and promote my online interests.  Seems like something we should have had from the Web’s beginning. But it sure sounds like a lot of work.  Why should any entity agree to take on fiduciary obligations of care and loyalty, and the potential downsides? What’s actually in it for the entity?  

A. Great question.  And yes, I can see where some folks may question the benefits when they face at least the prospect of higher client support costs, greater legal exposure, and more uncertainty overall.  But I believe the tradeoffs are worth it. Here are a few suggestions (eleven in fact); hopefully some potential DTMs would agree, and even add their own.

(1) Commercial Advantage (for-profit companies)

· Entity gets potential access to more relevant personal data from Clients = more relevant advertising/marketing sales = more ads revenue.

· Entity gets opportunity to offer advanced new technologies to Clients = new subscription revenue, more relevant ads revenue.

(2) Commercial Flexibility (for any entities)

·   Entity has ability to explore various business models (ads, monthly subscriptions, per-transaction fees, tokenized data access, etc).

·      Entity has ability to explore various governance models (B-corp, platform cooperative, blockchain platform, etc).

(3) Mission Fulfillment (not-for-profits entities)

·      Representing people as Clients serves the higher goals of the organization (library as example).

(4) Leveraging Trustworthiness

·      Entity (credit union as example) is trusted more by its customer base than the MOPs – why should it not take full advantage of that hard-won trust?

(5) Greater Relevance

·      MOPs are raking in so much money, and are so far ahead of potential competition, the entity (ISP as example) is more open to trying new models, including a heightened duty of loyalty, in order to gain additional relevance in the Web.

(6) Unique Expertise

·      The entity (tech startup as example) has developed some advanced technology applications that would be a good fit for the DTM model.

(7) Compliance Advantages

·      The DTM model should make it comparatively easier for entities to comply with existing legal obligations (GDPR in Europe, DMCA in US as examples).

(8) Lobbying Advantages

·      The DTM model provides an opportunity to work with national/state/global policymakers to craft advantageous Web-focused legislation (data protection/privacy bills in US Congress as example).

(9) A “Modest Bargain” (per Zittrain)

·      The DTM model helps open the door to negotiate additional favorable tradeoffs with Congress (Section 230 as example), that assumedly would be less available to others not operating under the DTM model.

(10) It’s Personal

·      I want the opportunity for me/my family/friends to be a Client to a DTM

(11) The Right Thing to Do

·      I am a proud business person.  My Users should be my Clients.


Richard Whitt