Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook have jointly announced the Data Transfer Project. When finished it will enable data to move from one platform to another.

Sounds complex – it is. Until now it involved a complex set of API (application programming interfaces) talking to another set of APIs. Often resulting in data jumble.

Data Transfer Project

It is still a while away but the overview paper says the Data Transfer Project (DTP) extends data portability beyond a user’s ability (that is us) to download a copy of their data from their service provider (like Facebook), to provide the user with the ability to initiate a direct transfer of their data into and out of any participating provider.

The data transfer project is all about data portability. Your data where you want it.

DTP Partners believe that people should use products because they provide unique value and features. If a user wants to switch to another product or service, they should be able to do so as easily as possible. This concept of allowing users to choose products and services based on choice. Rather than being locked in as it will help drive innovation and facilitate competition.

Data portability can also provide security benefits for users. Practical tools that let users backup or archive important information organise information within multiple accounts; recover from account hijacking; and retrieve data from deprecated services all work to improve user security.

So what does the Data Transfer Project this mean?

Individuals have many reasons to transfer data, but we want to highlight a few examples that demonstrate the additional value of service-to-service portability.

  • A user discovers a new photo printing service offering beautiful and innovative photo book formats. But their photos are in their social media account. DTP will allow transfer directly from the social media platform to the photo book service.
  • A user doesn’t agree with the privacy policy of their music service. They want to stop using it immediately but don’t want to lose the playlists. They could export a copy of their playlists to the cloud and import the playlists to a new provider.
  • A company is getting requests from customers who would like to import data from a legacy provider. The legacy provider has limited options for letting customers move their data. The company writes an Adapter for the legacy provider’s Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that permits users to transfer data to the company’s service, also benefiting other providers that handle the same data type.
  • A user in a low bandwidth area has been working with an architect on drawings and graphics for a new house. At the end of the project, they both want to transfer all the files from a shared storage system to the user’s cloud storage drive. They go to the cloud storage DTP User Interface (UI) and move hundreds of large files directly, without straining their bandwidth.
  • Supermarkets want to allow customers to transfer their purchase history from one grocer to another so that they can get coupons based on buying habits between stores.

GadgetGuy’s take. And you thought it was easy to swap!

The innovation in each of the examples lies behind the scenes. The DTP will make it easy for providers to meet their users’ expectation that they can migrate data with minimal engineering effort.

This is a great initiative that gives users – us – control over where our data is. Can’t come soon enough. Although I wonder which big stick and even larger carrot was wielded by some regulator to make this a reality?