Politics of APIs: Talk Of API Driven Regulation Is Increasing

When I started API Evangelist, I was all about the Business of APIs, something I still focus on, but increasingly over the last couple years I am focusing more on what I call the politics of APIs. In my opinion, the politics of APIs can be anything from terms of service and privacy policies, to rate limits, pricing, and security, all the way up to court cases, patents, and government regulation.

Today I want to focus on the very top of that spectrum—government regulation. The government isn't just getting into the API game, by deploying their own APIs, they are going to also increasingly be getting more involved with private sector APIs. In my weekly monitoring I'm seeing more chatter across several industries, like the UK treasury getting involved in banking API standards, and a push in the healthcare industry for more interoperability via APIs--just to highlight two recent stories.

This isn’t anything new, governments been defining API standards and pitching them to industries for a while now. I personally have been involved in healthcare and energy related standards, as part of Blue Button and Green Button data services. In coming years, what is going to increase, is the number of industries that the government is helping define standard, as well as beginning to get a little more heavy handed about mandating APIs as part of the regulatory process..

Personally I’m not the biggest fan of government regulation, something I feel gets abused on both sides of the tracks, but I understand it is a necessary actor when it comes to balance in markets. To help address some of the abuse that occurs, I think APIs could significantly help bring much needed transparency, and self-service access to the process, for both the public and private sector. I feel the conversation in coming years will move beyond the government just defining industry API standards, but also pushing for real-time interoperability, and execution by companies who operate in heavily regulated industries.

I’ll continue to keep track of the patterns I see emerging when it comes to API driven regulation, and try to stay informed regarding what is coming down the pipes across business sectors. At various points along the way, I’ll do roundups of regulator related news, analysis, and API definitions, or platforms that focus on industry regulation. When it comes to API driven regulation, there will be no black or white, just high a high frequency blur, which will need transparency, and a machine readable interface to make any sense of.