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Consumers have come to expect their devices to be portable, but what about their data? The FTC just announced Data to Go, a public workshop set for September 22, 2020, to take a closer look at the potential benefits and challenges to consumers and competition raised by data portability.

Data portability gives consumers more control over their data, allowing them to move it from one service to another or to themselves. What kind of information are we talking about? Email, contacts, calendars, favorites, friends, financial information, health information, and social media content are just some examples. Data portability also may also promote competition by allowing new entrants to access data they otherwise wouldn’t have, enabling the growth of competing platforms and services. It’s a topic more people are talking about due in part to the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other laws that include data portability requirements.

But data portability presents challenges, too, including how to treat consumers’ data that might contain information about others – say, friends’ photos or comments. Also, how can consumers’ data be transferred from one service to another in a secure fashion? Will mandating data portability give companies less incentive to invest in data-driven products and services?

Data to Go: An FTC Workshop on Data Portability will bring together consumer advocates, industry groups, economists, government representatives, and other stakeholders for a wide-ranging public discussion. To help our analysis, we’re asking for your input on a series of questions, including:

  • how companies are currently implementing data portability,
  • the benefits and costs of data portability,
  • the extent to which data portability has increased or decreased competition,
  • who should be responsible for the security of personal data in transit between businesses, and
  • lessons learned and best practices from the implementation of the GDPR and CCPA data portability requirements.

Send your comments by August 21, 2020, to DataPortability@ftc.gov. Interested in participating as a presenter or panelist? Send us an email to that same address. (As always, if a proposed panelist or commenter is affiliated with an entity that has provided funding for research, analysis, or commentary on relevant topics, please identify that funding and its source in your comment or in your request for consideration as a speaker.)

The September 22nd Data to Go workshop is free and open to the public. You can attend in person at the FTC’s Constitution Center conference facility, 400 7th St., S.W., in Washington, D.C., or you can watch the webcast from your desk or device. Follow the Business Blog for updates about the agenda.

 

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