Two issues that are often brought up in tandem when talking about tech are anti-competitive market concentration and consumer privacy. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has released a statement endorsing his new act, the Secure and Interoperable Government Collaboration Technology Act (SIGCTA). The SIGCTA would mandate interoperability between different software communication networks, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and include their end-to-end encryption security for government workers. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with interoperability, including more networks in end-to-end encryption opens the door to privacy risks for individual networks.

Opening different applications with different systems presents compatibility issues. If a system is easily accessible from third parties, then the data of those on the system are more accessible as well.

The process of direct downloading is called sideloading and it would require companies to forgo or weaken their security apparatus. The senior technical manager at ExtraHop notes that “If you remove the ability to directly audit the programs being distributed to the platform, then it is inevitable that there will be more security risks.”

However,  Wyden claims that a lack of interoperability degrades privacy. He reasons that not having end-to-end encryption between networks creates risks when messaging across them and creates even greater risks if cross-messaging is not allowed. Though it is true that not having interoperability between networks is risky for users who choose to communicate that way, it does not change the fact that more networks expose users to more points of vulnerability. It may only take one bad actor and one third-party network with poor security to endanger consumer privacy.

In software like Zoom and Teams, encrypted messaging necessitates the ability to limit itself to only their products for the same reason. If Zoom were to offer encrypted messaging when texting non-Zoom devices, those devices would need access to Zoom’s encryption system. Encryption, like application downloading, is a closed system and is regulated for security and quality assurance by Zoom. Opening that system to third parties also opens the system to vulnerabilities that Zoom cannot protect against.

Mandating companies to open their systems to benefit their market competitors forces them to put their customers at risk, and the House should be honest about that fact. A closed system has fewer avenues for hostile parties to attack. You can’t eat your cake and have it too.

Isaac Schick is with the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on X @ConsumerPal.