Facebook starts conversation on safer data portability

Facebook releases five questions on data portability, attempts to create a conversation and make the experience easier for users.

In a recent release, Facebook has opened up about data portability, detailing five questions that need to be discussed by all. They believe that if you share your data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. “This gives people control and choice, while also promoting innovation. That’s why we support the principle of data portability,” says the media giant.

Facebook is aiming to offer people more control over data portability with the help of new generation tools that protect privacy and support innovation. An issue in the process, as they point out, is that online services need to demonstrate to people that they can trust their data to be protected while making the move from one service to another.

To this extent, they are trying to build a conversation, with the help of the following questions:

What is data portability? 

Even though “data portability” is already written into laws in some places, the concept still means different things to different people. We try to set out a taxonomy for  distinguishing between different types of data transfers with the aim of identifying what is — and isn’t — “data portability.”

Which data should be portable? 

We discuss different takes on what it means for a person to port the data they have “provided” to a service and what factors stakeholders should consider in defining the scope of portable data.

Whose data should be portable? 

Data is often associated with more than one person in digital services, like photos, videos and contact lists. Should transferring companies limit data portability in those cases? How can providers ensure that each individual’s rights are accounted for?

How should we protect privacy while enabling portability? 

What responsibilities, if any, should transferring companies have with respect to people requesting or receiving data transfers and people whose interests may be implicated by a transfer?

After people’s data is transferred, who is responsible if the data is misused or improperly protected? 

Should the transferring or the recipient companies be held accountable? Should users themselves be responsible for issues that affect their (or their friends’) data?

The road ahead

With the white paper, Facebook aims to start a series of conversations with privacy experts, policymakers, regulators and other companies around the globe. They hope to focus the talks on how data portability should be implemented to maximise the benefits while mitigating the risks.

The social media giant further lists the steps they have taken so far. In 2018, they had improved their data portability tool, Download Your Information. Now, they are exploring what the next generation of portability tools should look like. In the same year, they joined Google, Microsoft and Twitter on the Data Transfer Project. Later, Apple too became a part of the effort. They are hoping to host and join roundtables and workshops to strengthen these efforts, along with working on innovative projects with various stakeholders.