Drumbeat/Data portability

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A Drumbeat data portability project ?

This project begins with the concept that user choice, and user control over their experience, should remain a distinguishing feature of the open internet.

To maintain a healthy competition amongst online services heavily reliant on user-submitted data, it will become increasingly important to make sure user data is easily portable. This will help ensure that popular services make changes according to the interests of their users, and that new services can compete on the basis of their merits and usability, without artificial barriers to competition. Keeping data in the hands of users, rather than allowing confusing legal and technological techniques to lock upconsumer data, will help ensure an open and competitive internet.

The question is how to create a development environment that encourages data portability without applying onerous and excessively specific legal mandates on diverse applications and services.

This project will need legal and technical expertise, along with input from end users to understand the day-to-day needs of the end user.

The project could produce sample data portability policies based on the type of service or application, sets of best technological practices for service and application development, certifications based on meeting certain portability standards, a simplified badge system for websites to display their portability policies to users, etc.

What are the biggest challenges facing data portability?

  • Ability to actually download the full data, using API or HTML parsing
  • Identifying the legal barriers (terms of use)
  • Formats (Reusability, XML, RDF...)
    • Facebook download function
  • Lack of awareness, social norms, amongst users of the fact that they produce the data, and they produce value, and they should demand some rights to control that data

What are potential solutions to challenges?

  • Developing guides to how to download and backup your own data
  • Legal analysis on ability to download and reuse user data (does it comply with services' terms?)
  • Useful lists
    • Listing third-party tools that allows users to download their data from popular services
    • Listing built-in features of services to download data

What has already been done?