Project would allow you to port data from Gmail to Office 365, download all your Facebook photos…
Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft today formally launched the Data Transfer Project (DTP), an open source initiative between the four major American tech giants that was first floated in 2017.
The DTP aims to extend “data portability” across digital systems using industry standard APIs, for example allowing easy data transfers between Gmail and Office 365. The project is a work in progress.
It comes in the wake of GDPR, which has a requirement for such portability. The European legislation gives individuals the right to “receive personal data they have provided to a controller in a structured, commonly used and machine readable format” and request that a controller transmits this data directly to another controller.
Twitter’s Data Protection Officer Damien Kieran said: “We feel strongly that portability and interoperability are central to innovation on the internet.”
He added: “We believe that a more frictionless, individually-driven forms of data transfer between online platforms and services will result in an innovative, creative, and people-first online experience for all.”
The companies offered a range of commercial examples of why this might be useful.
Port Social Media Photos to a Printer
One example suggested: “A user discovers a new photo printing service offering beautiful and innovative photo book formats, but their photos are stored in their social media account. With the Data Transfer Project, they could visit a website or app offered by the photo printing service and initiate a transfer directly from their social media platform to the photo book service.”
Another example would be a company receiving requests to import data from a legacy provider that has limited options for letting customers move their data and which is going out of business: “The company writes an Adapter for the legacy provider’s
Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that permits users to transfer data to the company’s service, also benefiting other providers that handle the same data type.”
In a whitepaper published this week, they said: “The DTP is powered by an ecosystem of adapters that convert a range of proprietary formats into a small number of canonical formats (Data Models) useful for transferring data.”
They added: “This allows data transfer between any two providers using the provider’s existing authorization mechanism, and allows each provider to maintain control over the security of their service. This also adds to the sustainability of the ecosystem, since companies can attract new customers, or build a user base for new products, by supporting and maintaining the ability to easily import and export a user’s data”.
How Does The Data Transfer Project Work?
The Data Transfer Project consists of three main components, Data Models, Company Specific Adapters and Task Management.
The first component, Data Models represents the data that is being transferred between the two different companies. Usually, data models are clustered together into industry grouping to form verticals.
One provider could have verticals for music, photos, emails, contacts and video where they will have their own vertical and data models cluster.
With Company Specific Adapters, there are two main adapters, Data Adapters and Authentication Adapters.
Data Adapters are pieces of code that come in pairs and translate a given provider’s API into Data Models that are used for the project.
Authentication Adapters allow consumers to authenticate their accounts before transferring their data from one provider to another.
Finally, Task Management Libraries handle the background tasks such as the two relevant adapters, secure data storage, retry logic, rate limiting to name but a few.
Craig Shank, Vice President for Corporate Standards at Microsoft commented in a blog post about the Data Transfer Project:
“The Data Transfer Project’s goal is to extend data portability in the cloud, allowing users to directly transfer their data in and out of any participating provider.
“As an open-source project, it is designed to encourage as broad a participation by as many service providers as possible.”
The Data Transfer Project is currently in active development albeit there is a website dedicated to the project at datatransferproject.dev.