Four of the world's biggest tech companies have joined hands to develop tools that will help users manage and transfer data between online services.
Google, Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Microsoft Corp have tied up for a new open source initiative, Data Transfer Project (DTP), which will allow users to sign up for new online services by using data from other services with encryption.
"Using your data from one service when you sign up for another still isn't as easy as it should be," Steve Satterfield, privacy and public policy director at Facebook, was cited as saying in multiple media reports.
Users presently have the option for downloading copies of their data to an online or local storage location through services such as Google’s Download-Your-Data, which allows users to download directly to their Dropbox, Box, MS OneDrive and Google Drive accounts.
“The DTP, however, facilitates direct portability of user data between cloud services, allowing users to directly transfer their data in and out of any participating provider,” Brian Willard, product manager at Google, said in an official blog post.
Data transfer between two different services has always been a challenge as they use data requiring unique privacy settings and controls. The orchestrators of the project are asking other companies to join them in advancing a broader view of data portability.
In a white paper published as part of the initiative, Microsoft identified many use cases for such data transfers. For instance, a user can directly download her photos from social media accounts through and into a third-party photo framing website, or a user who wants to discontinue a music streaming subscription can transfer his playlist to a different service.
“For people on slow or low bandwidth connections, service-to-service portability will be especially important where infrastructure constraints and expense make importing and exporting data to or from the user’s system impractical if not nearly impossible,” Craig Shank, vice president for corporate standards at Microsoft, said in a blog post.
According to the white paper, data portability can 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, the white paper said.