Fair Web Services Certification

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


The key criterion for a Fair Web Service is that users can substitute it by another service if they wish. This gives them control and freedom of choice. Users need to be able to move their data to another service which serves them better or even run the service themselves.

Existence of API

The service has an API (application programming interface) which allows users to access all the data they own.

Rationale: An API to extract data makes it possible to write tools which migrate data from one service to another.

Access to API

The API can be accessed under the same terms and with the same quality of service as all the other ways the user access their data

Rationale: It needs to be practical for users to extract their data and they don’t have to cross additional barriers such as extra payment.

Retained rights to own data

Users don’t need to give up any rights on the data they provide to the service.

Rationale: Users need to keep the rights to their data so they can give it to another service provider without restrictions.

Feasibility of substitute service

It’s technically and legally possible to run an equivalent service. An open source implementation of the service or if the service implements standardized protocols matches this criterion. It also means that no essential part of the service can be prevented to be reimplemented by others through patents.

Rationale: Other service providers need to have the technical and legal means to run a substitute service.

Graceful shutdown

There is a provision for succession in case the service stops operating. This includes guarantees to make the service and data available for a reasonable time after it announces to close down. An agreement to transfer the service and its data to another provider under the same or more free terms matches this criterion.

Rationale: In the case of a shutdown of a service users need to have the opportunity to move to another service. They don’t have that if the service goes down without notice.