Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have announced on Friday, July 20, the Data Transfer Project (DTP), an initiative to create an open-source, service-to-service data portability platform so that users of their sites and others can easily migrate data from one platform to another.

After open-sourcing the code, the four tech giants hope that other platforms will adopt their new technology and help create an interconnected web where users can easily move data from platform to platform without headaches and avoid situations where they have to set up profiles over and over and over and over again at each site they register.

But the DTP framework is also useful for other things. For example, the four companies say, it could be leveraged to build tools and software to extract and back up data stored in social media profiles, or for creating tools that wipe out a user's social presence.

DTP leverages existing APIs

According to a scientific paper the four companies working on DTP released yesterday, the DTP framework will work on existing APIs and authorization mechanisms to access data to access and convert data into a common format and will require minimal modifications from participants.

Security features are baked in, and a governance body will also be created to oversee the framework's future development.

The DTP framework's source code is available on GitHub.

DTP already supports a few export types, online platforms

"Our prototype already supports data transfer for several product verticals including: photos, mail, contacts, calendar, and tasks. These are enabled by existing, publicly available APIs from Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Remember the Milk, and Smugmug," said Brian Willard, Software Engineer and Greg Fair, Product Manager at Google.

"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," said Craig Shank, Vice President for Corporate Standards at Microsoft.

"These are the kinds of issues the Data Transfer Project will tackle. The Project is in its early stages, and we hope more organizations and experts will get involved," said Steve Satterfield, Privacy & Public Policy Director at Facebook.

"This will take time but we are very excited to work with innovators and passionate people from other companies to ensure we are putting you first," said Damien Kieran, Data Protection Officer at Twitter.

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