Driving Innovation in Data Portability With a New Photo Transfer Tool

By Steve Satterfield, Director of Privacy and Public Policy

At Facebook, we believe that if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. That’s the principle of data portability, which gives people control and choice while also encouraging innovation. Today, we’re releasing a tool that will enable Facebook users to transfer their Facebook photos and videos directly to other services, starting with Google Photos.

In September, we published a white paper that explores the privacy questions we’re discussing as we build a new generation of data portability tools. Since then, we’ve had conversations with stakeholders around the world — from the UK and Germany to Brazil and Singapore — to get feedback about what data should be portable and how to ensure that we protect privacy when enabling data transfers.

We’ve learned from our conversations with policymakers, regulators, academics, advocates and others that real-world use cases and tools will help drive policy discussions forward. That’s why we’re developing new products that take into account the feedback we’ve received and will help drive data portability policies forward by giving people and experts a tool to assess.

For almost a decade, we’ve enabled people to download their information from Facebook. The photo transfer tool we’re starting to roll out today is based on code developed through our participation in the open-source Data Transfer Project and will first be available to people in Ireland, with worldwide availability planned for the first half of 2020. People can access this new tool in Facebook settings within Your Facebook Information, the same place where you can download your information. We’ve kept privacy and security as top priorities, so all data transferred will be encrypted and people will be asked to enter their password before a transfer is initiated.

We are currently testing this tool, so we will continue refining it based on feedback from people using it as well as from our conversations with stakeholders. 

We want to build practical portability solutions people can trust and use effectively. To foster that trust, people and online services need clear rules about what kinds of data should be portable and who is responsible for protecting that data as it moves to different services. We hope this product can help advance conversations on the privacy questions we identified in our white paper. We know we can’t do this alone, so we encourage other companies to join the Data Transfer Project to expand options for people and continue to push data portability innovation forward. 



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