Data portability is important because it gives individuals control over their own information. However, if not done right it could create problems in terms of privacy and security of the individual and their information.
Users of online services want active control over the information they share with those services. They want to ensure their information is protected and secure, and that it can also go with them should they choose a new or competing service. Data portability—the capability to migrate personal data you’ve shared with one service to another—is regularly suggested as a potential solution to these concerns. Thoughtfully designed portability and interoperability can strengthen user choice and control; however, if not approached in a thoughtful manner, data portability and interoperability can be in tension with users’ interest in privacy, security, and marketplace competition.
Everyone Wants Data Portability
Legislators, regulators, technologists, companies, and civil society all have ideas on how to tackle data portability. Two weeks ago Facebook asked experts Kevin Bankston, Mark Jamison, former FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, and Nico van Eijk to share their perspectives on how Facebook and other companies should protect privacy while allowing users to share information between apps and services. Bankston in particular offers three suggestions that set out the challenges of data portability and interoperability: (1) set clear technical standards that everyone can adhere to; (2) solve the “graph portability problem”; and (3) allow interoperability as well as data portability for competitive apps.
Numerous stakeholders, including CCIA, recently filed comments with the FTC which detail the complicated technical and competitive factors evident in the conversation around data portability, interoperability, privacy, and security. Chief among those factors is determining the appropriate scope of data made portable and the extent of interoperability for particular services, which are indicators for the policy aims advocates for data portability are seeking to achieve.
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