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Data portability is the ability for people to reuse their data across interoperable applications - the ability for people to be able to control their identity, media and other forms of personal data. The DataPortability Project works to advance this vision by identifying, contextualizing and promoting efforts in the space.

The effort is run by a globally distributed team on a volunteer basis.

The current DataPortability logo

Project history[edit]

The first DataPortability logo

The DataPortability Project was founded by a group of people[1] that created a workgroup by inviting industry thinkers in November 2007 to explore the idea.

In January 2008, several major web industry players supported the workgroup: Google, Facebook and Plaxo on 8 January 2008,[2] followed by Drupal, Netvibes and Mystrands, and then LinkedIn, Flickr, Six Apart and Twitter,[3] as well as Digg and Microsoft.

The Project incorporated as a 501c3 not-for-profit charity in 2009.

Model Portability Policy[edit]

The Project commissioned a Terms of Service and End User License Agreement working group in 2008. The EULA/ToS group considered how to bring data portability practices and ideas into the contract between sites and their users. The group announced a model Portability Policy questionnaire and in July 2010. Portability policies structure a communication to users, like a privacy policy. The intent was to foster internal discussion within organizations about the role of data portability, to educate consumers about portability issues, to clearly disclose portability practices in a way that is comparable across sites, and to encourage a data portability race to the top.

The model policy, at launch, contained ten questions, each with a structured answer (yes/no, multiple choice) and a recommended narrative for the answer. The model questions in their May 2010 form:

  1. Are your APIs and Data Formats Documented? (Yes/No/Doesn't Apply)
  2. Do people need to create a new identity for this product, or can they use an existing one? (Fresh Start, Existing Identity, Doesn't Apply)
  3. Must people import things into this product, or can the product refer to things stored someplace else? Can this product work with objects and information whose "authoritative home" is another product, or can this product only work with things that it hosts directly? (Home, Visitor, Doesn't Apply)
  4. Can this site watch for updates that people make on other sites? In cases where the product tracks or manages things that the person has stored on some third party product, can this product automatically keep itself up to date? (No Imports, One Time Import, Watch For Updates, Doesn't Apply)
  5. If person updates something here, is that change stored only here or can it notify another product? Does this product provide a way for others to ask for updates? (Silent, Chatty, Doesn't Apply)
  6. Can the person allow other sites to use the things they've created or updated here? Does this product provide a way for third parties to authenticate a person and read or write? (No Access, Other Products Can Read, Other Products Can Write, Doesn't Apply)
  7. Can the person download or remotely access a copy of everything they've provided to this service? As part of their standard use of most products, people import or create things. Does this product provide an open, DRM-free way for people to retrieve or access via third party all of the things they've created or provided? (No Download, Some Download, Full Download, Doesn't Apply)
  8. Can the person download or remotely access information that others have provided to the product? In cases where the product allows download or remote access, can the person export or access all of the data to which they have access, or only data which they have directly created? (Provider Only, Full Access, Doesn't Apply)
  9. Will this site delete an account and all associated data upon a user's request? If the user creates a password or account for use with this product, does the product provide a way to cancel the account and erase all data associated with it? (Immortal Accounts, Data Expires, Accounts Deleted Upon Request, Doesn't Apply)
  10. Do you disclose where my data is being kept in the real world? If Yes, where can I learn where my data is kept? Can I request to have my data stored in one jurisdiction or another? (Yes, No, Doesn't Apply)


Historically, the DataPortability Project has been associated with advocating open standards. Formally, the group does not endorse any specific technologies over another - but its leaders have said they support the broader concept of open standards because they help achieve the vision of data portability.[4]

There are numerous open standards that are considered to advance the vision, such as RDF, RDFa, microformats, APML, FOAF, OAuth, OpenID, OPML, RSS, SIOC, the XHTML Friends Network (XFN), XRI, and XDI.


The Dataportability Project community formally recognises members with voting status as being part of the plenary. Members of the plenary elect a Steering Group, who in turn have "sole authority to make decisions determining the operation, order, and good governance of the DataPortability Project."[5]

In the 2010 operating year, the following people are members of the Steering group:[6]

Former members[edit]

  • J. Trent Adams (first secretary)
  • Brett McDowell
  • Chris Saad
  • Christian Scholz
  • Steve Williams
  • Steve Greenberg
  • Ian Forrester

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "DataPortability". CrunchBase. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Duncan Riley (January 8, 2008). "Facebook, Google And Plaxo Join The DataPortability Workgroup". TechCrunch. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Marshall Kirkpatrick (January 10, 2008). "LinkedIn, SixApart and Flickr People Join Is This Stuff For Real?". Readwrite. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Elias Bizannes (April 21, 2009). "Why open wins". Elias Bizannes blog. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Elias Bizannes (Mar 19, 2009). "Governance Model". DataPortability project. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Elias Bizannes (May 8, 2009). "Steering Group members". DataPortability project. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]