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Data To Go: An FTC Workshop on Data Portability

September 22, 2020 @ 08:30 - 15:00

The Federal Trade Commission will host a public workshop on September 22, 2020, to examine the potential benefits and challenges to consumers and competition raised by data portability.

Data portability refers to the ability of consumers to move data – such as, emails, contacts, calendars, financial information, health information, favorites, friends or content posted on social media – from one service to another or to themselves. In addition to providing benefits to consumers, data portability may benefit competition by allowing new entrants to access data they otherwise would not have so that they can grow competing platforms and services. At the same time, there may be challenges to implementing or requiring data portability. For example, data that consumers want to port may include information about others, such as friends’ photos and comments. How should this data be treated? How can the data be transferred securely? Who has responsibility for ensuring that data portability is technically feasible? Does mandatory data access or data sharing affect companies’ incentives to invest in data-driven products and services?

Data portability is a timely topic. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s Consumer Privacy Act both include data portability requirements, and companies serving customers in Europe and California have already begun providing consumers with the right to port their data. In addition, the UK’s Open Banking initiative and US banking laws requiring that financial information be provided to consumers in an electronic format, are encouraging data portability in the financial sector, including the development of APIs to facilitate transfer of data to consumers and among financial institutions. Major technology companies Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have created the Data Transfer Project with the goal of creating an open-source, service-to-service data portability platform. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has finalized rules to facilitate portability of health data. And industry and lawmakers have discussed including data portability as a component of any comprehensive federal privacy legislation.

The workshop seeks to bring together stakeholders — including industry representatives, economists, consumer advocates, and regulators — for a wide-ranging public discussion on issues raised by data portability. The workshop will address questions such as the potential benefits to consumers and competition of data portability, the potential risks to consumer privacy and how those risks might be mitigated, the potential impact of mandatory data access or data sharing on companies’ incentives to innovate, how to best ensure the security of personal data that is being transmitted from one business to another, the merits and challenges of interoperability, and who should be responsible for ensuring interoperability.


September 22, 2020
08:30 - 15:00
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