Babar Khan Javed
Jul 23, 2018

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter launch data-transfer project

The initiative allows users to back up their data, abandon a social network or try a new one without having to worry about portability and interoperability.

Effort aims to provide portability for photos and other digital assets.
Effort aims to provide portability for photos and other digital assets.

#DeleteFacebook just got a lot easier.

Designed as a way to help users move data between platforms, the Data Transfer Project (DTP) is a collaboration between Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter to give users the authority to back up their data, leave a network or join a new one without having to start from scratch.

Similar to Google's existing Download Your Data, the DTP supports data transfer for photos, mail, contacts, calendars, and tasks, enabling a connection between any two public-facing product interfaces for importing and exporting data directly.

"Consumers will benefit from improved flexibility and control over their data," said Greg Fair, product manager for Takeout at Google, in a blog post announcing the DTP. "They will be able to import their information into any participating service that offers compelling features—even brand new ones that could rely on powerful, cloud-based infrastructure rather than the consumers’ potentially limited bandwidth and capability to transfer files. Services will benefit as well, as they will be able to compete for users that can move their data more easily."

According to Habibullah Khan, director of content at Penumbra, the DTP is a direct result of EU's GDPR regulation which enforces data portability.

"With this initiative, the companies involved are showing their willingness to comply," said Khan. "Advertising players can disregard this project. Their interest is in the automated processing of consumer data which post-GDPR cannot happen without explicit customer permission."

He adds that all four co-founders of DTP have realized GDPR actually benefits them because new competitors to their social networks cannot arise, as a customer simply can’t export their friend's list to a new service. So now via DTP, they seek to simply reduce regulatory scrutiny.

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