Its over 14 years since the dataportability project was founded by a bunch of well meaning people including myself. It was a challenging time with vendor lock, walled gardens and social guilt trips; to be honest little changed till very recently with GDPR.
Data export was good but user controlled data transfer is something special and one of the dreams of the data portability project. Service to service; not because there was a special agreement setup between the services but because you choose to move of your own freewill; makes so much sense.
This why I was kind of sceptical of the Google data transfer project. But on deeper look its pretty good.
In 2007, a small group of engineers in our Chicago office formed the Data Liberation Front, a team that believed consumers should have better tools to put their data where they want, when they want, and even move it to a different service. This idea, called “data portability,” gives people greater control of their information, and pushes us to develop great products because we know they can pack up and leave at any time.
In 2011, we launched Takeout, a new way for Google users to download or transfer a copy of the data they store or create in a variety of industry-standard formats. Since then, we’ve continued to invest in Takeout—we now call it Download Your Data—and today, our users can download a machine-readable copy of the data they have stored in 50+ Google products, with more on the way.
Now, we’re taking our commitment to portability a step further. In tandem with Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook we’re announcing the Data Transfer Project, an open source initiative dedicated to developing tools that will enable consumers to transfer their data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it. Download Your Data users can already do this; they can transfer their information directly to their Dropbox, Box, MS OneDrive, and Google Drive accounts today. With this project, the development of which we mentioned in our blog post about preparations for the GDPR, we’re looking forward to working with companies across the industry to bring this type of functionality to individuals across the web.
All sounds great and the code is open source on Github for anyone to try out. The paper is worth reading too.
However! The devil is in the data or rather the lack of it. As the EFF point out theres no tracking data exchange, the real crown jewels. The transfer tool is good but if the services don’t even share the data, then whats the point?