The End Of Data Transfer Incompatibility
Aside from the development of the Linux kernel, where numerous known names in the Internet industry are in constant partnership, it really is rare for companies to partner with each other to develop something for the good of everyone. Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google are partnering in the creation of a new technology, they dubbed it as “Data Transfer Project.”
With the new technology, users can use a universal API that works across many online service providers. This can be accomplished without the need for the user to download the files first, from the original source, and re-upload it to the destination online service. The four tech giants have released a detailed white paper on how the system will operate once released. The translation technology promises to enable smooth interoperability between vendor-proprietary APIs, making participating online services to translate file formats on-the-fly. The system also provides encryption in order to preserve the integrity of the file transfer from one service to another.
The project development happens on the official Github page, a public page where everyone is invited to monitor, check and contribute. As quoted from the white paper: “The future of portability will need to be more inclusive, flexible, and open. Our hope for this project is that it will enable a connection between any two public-facing product interfaces for importing and exporting data directly. DTP will enhance the data portability ecosystem by reducing the infrastructure burden on both service providers and users, which should, in turn, increase the number of services offering portability. The protocols and methodology of DTP enable direct, service-to-service data transfer with streamlined engineering work. The DTP partners believe that people should use products because they provide unique value and features. If a user wants to switch to another product or service because they think it is better, they should be able to do so as easily as possible. This concept of allowing users to choose products and services based on choice, rather than being locked in, helps drive innovation and facilitates competition.”
Greg Fair, a Google Product manager admitted that the desire of the partnering tech giants to create an option for users to transparently import and export data in-between different online services.“When people have data, they want to be able to move it from one product to another, and they can’t. It’s a problem that we can’t really solve alone,” emphasized Fair.
They have made a commitment that the project will be fully compliant with EU’s GDPR and will be transparent to the users. The project will be developed as an open-source to prevent any company from owning the technology alone, creating a monopoly. “In the long term, we want there to be a consortium of industry leaders, consumer groups, government groups. But until we have a reasonable critical mass, it’s not an interesting conversation,” stressed Fair.
From the perspective of Facebook, they have high hopes the industry will embrace the project. This is on the backdrop of Facebook’s own controversy in connection with data integrity, with their alleged involvement with the Cambridge Analytica issue. David Baser, Director of Product Management of Facebook stated: “We always want to think about user data protection first. One of the things that’s nice about an API is that, as the data provider, we have the ability to turn off the pipeline or impose conditions on how they can use it. With a data download tool, the data leaves our hands and it’s truly out there in the wild. If someone wants to use that data for bad purposes, Facebook truly cannot do anything about it.”