Building data portability to help consumers choose
People want the freedom to be able to use different online services without worrying about losing their photos, contacts, emails and other data if they close an account or switch to a new company.
For over a decade, Google has offered its users data portability – the ability to take your Google data with you, even if you are no longer using a Google service. In 2007, we created a team of engineers dedicated to giving people an easy way to export a copy of their data from our products. Since then, we’ve expanded our data portability offering with Google Takeout, which makes it easy to download data from over 70 Google products. Our teams continue to build cutting-edge technologies that help make this process simpler and keep personal data safe and secure as people transfer it between different platforms.
Today, we are announcing new investments and continued collaboration with industry partners and experts to make data portability easier and more secure for every internet user.
Advancing data portability
Data portability can be challenging for people who don’t have high-speed internet, unlimited mobile data plans, or who don’t have a personal device with extra storage. In 2018, we launched the Data Transfer Project(DTP), an open source collaboration with Google, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Twitter and SmugMug to simplify data portability for people around the world.
Unlike traditional methods of moving your files from one service to another, which require reliable broadband or drawing on mobile data plans, with DTP people can simply authorize a copy of the data to safely move to a new service without having to download it to a personal device first. This makes it easier for people to try new services without the burden of needing additional storage. And any company or organization can use DTP’s open source code, meaning even smaller companies that don't have the engineering resources to build custom data portability solutions can take advantage of DTP’s tools and give people an easy way to bring their data to a new service.
Today, we’re pledging to provide $3 million over the next five years, as well as hundreds of hours of our engineers’ time, to help expand the open source libraries that facilitate more types of data transfer and allow more companies and organizations to participate in DTP.
We will also continue to improve our own tools, like Google Takeout, including adding new ways to move your files to different services with DTP technology. On average we see 8.2 million exports per month with Google Takeout, and in 2021, more than 400 billion files were exported, which has doubled since 2019.
Finally, we will continue to support organizations and researchers working on portability and interoperability, and collaborate with them to develop industry-wide standards and guidance on this important issue.
Policy principles for portability
Regulators around the world recognize that data portability is fundamental to promoting consumer choice and data protection. We agree – data portability is a secure way to foster innovation and competition among digital service providers. When people can easily switch to a new product or service, without the fear of losing access to their data, companies are encouraged to provide the best possible services to win over new users.
We believe data portability rules should follow three key principles:
- Put people first. Data portability supports competition by empowering consumers. Supporting standards for the most common data types will accelerate innovation in products that have a high value for consumers — including services for photos, playlists and contacts.
- Require exportability. Platforms that allow people to import their data should also allow them to export it. This encourages people to try new services without the risk that they will lose their data. Consumers will be more likely to try something new if they know they can change their mind.
- Prioritize privacy and security. Portability regulation must include safeguards against unauthorized access, diversion of data, and other types of fraud. This should include account authorization, encryption and delayed delivery.
These are the same principles we relied on to build Google Takeout and launch the DTP – and while we will continue to support regulatory efforts to create responsible data portability, we aren’t waiting for legal mandates. We will continue to advance state-of-the-art data portability through our tools and our support for DTP.