Fair Web Services Certification

This is a draft. It's work in progress and will change without special notice. Comments are welcome.

Fair model of operation

This is about the business model behind the service. Just like with Free Software the key is to find the balance of maintaining freedom and control for the user and allowing to build a commercial business around the service. This is not about providing everything gratis, but about a fair model, where users have a choice to pay for a service because they get the value they desire.

Unlike Free Software where distribution is basically free and developers of the software have no costs with people running their software, running a web service does cost money and the cost scales with the number of users and what they are doing. So a fair model needs to allow for a way to cover these costs.

Paying for service is fine

Paying for the costs of a service in a transparent way is fine.

Rationale: Running a service incurs recurring costs. These costs scale with number and activity of users. So users paying for the service is a sustainable way to run a service. If it’s done in a transparent way and the other criteria of a Fair Web Service are respected it can be the most fair way to run a service because this is the most direct business model and users don’t need to pay with their data or in any other indirect, possibly unfair, way.

No extra costs to access own data

Access to data owned by the user must never cost extra.

Rationale: Having control of their own data is one of the most important aspects of a Fair Web Service. Having to pay to access own data creates an artificial barrier and takes away control.

No ads

There is no third-party advertisement on the service.

Rationale: Third-party advertisements always come with tracking. Not doing ads makes sure users are not tracked. The other aspect is that if a service does ads users lose control about what they get shown on the service or what is shown along with their data to others because it’s chosen by the advertiser. Not doing ads keeps users in control.

Transparent plans

All parts of the service are available to all users under the same conditions (which might vary depending on what part of the service it is).

Rationale: If there are transparent generally accessible plans everybody is aware of what the service provides and can make use of it if desired.