DTI: A New Era for DTP

The Data Transfer Initiative is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of empowering technology users by enabling them to transfer their data from one service to another. DTI builds on and extends the past years of work on the Data Transfer Project (DTP). Three of DTP’s contributors — Apple, Meta, and Google — came together to support the creation of DTI to continue and expand the work of bringing data portability to all.

Keep Up with the Data Transfer Initiative

In the Beginning: The Data Transfer Project

The Data Transfer Project was created in 2018 as an industry collaboration with a mission of enabling users to complete simple, fast, and secure data transfers directly between services. Since its creation, the project has built an open source technology framework that powers direct data transfer features within Google Takeout, Facebook’s Transfer your Information, and Apple’s Data and Privacy page, as well as software libraries that connect to over a dozen additional services.

DTP runs as a server in a data exporter’s platform. From there, it makes it easier for the data exporter to offer destinations for porting, exporting or backing up data, even in large volume. In turn this allows people to switch services or try new and innovative products. Without DTP, transferring a copy of data from one service to another can be a time consuming process, requiring a user to download a copy of their data to a local device and re-upload it to a new service. This can be particularly challenging for mobile-only users, those with limited bandwidth, and in markets where people pay-as-they-go for data usage. Direct service-to-service portability removes the need for local device storage and transfer -– enabling users to move their data directly between services.

As an Open Source project, DTP’s code defines a service that can be deployed by data exporters and run in their environment, connected to existing front-end interfaces and backend APIs, to support data portability well. It also defines extensions that data importers contribute to support transfers into their services. The Open Source project makes portability easier for these companies by providing standard data formats and mechanisms for managing long-running portability “jobs”. Multiple data importing/exporting platforms have contributed adaptors, such that a service adopting DTP can quickly offer multiple interoperable destinations.

DTP continues to be developed and grow today. Further documentation can be found in our DTI docs page.

To learn more about the Data Transfer Project's goals and participants, this video serves as a good introduction.

About the Data Transfer Initiative

The Data Transfer Initiative commits dedicated policy and engineering resources to the promotion of data portability.

Data portability legislation happens at the EU, in the US (both federal and state level) and in other countries and jurisdictions. Those laws affect technology platforms very broadly since so many data and content platforms and services are likely to have international userbases or to participate in data transfers involving parties in other jurisdictions. DTI policy staff are following or engaged in many active areas of policy across these jurisdictions.

Awareness of technical constraints and risks helps to support good policy and ultimately good interoperability. DTI technical staff work closely with policy staff to analyze solutions and risks and share that analysis via our newsletter and other forums, including directly with policy-makers.

Open Source code can be a powerful tool in demonstrating feasibility, lowering the cost to implement data portability, and increasing the transparency and accountability of complicated processes. DTI is committed to supporting and contributing to Open Source projects whenever we can identify a great opportunity to add value.

Data portability continues to be a key element of policy discussions around the world, and DTI will help translate principle to practice, catalyzing greater user agency and empowerment.

Data portability is becoming a requirement globally to give consumers greater control over their own data, and choice about shifting to different services. At the same time, if portability is badly implemented, consumers face significant privacy and security risks. The Data Transfer Project has become the global leader for making data portability a reality for users, and the new Data Transfer Initiative will provide the thought leadership needed to consider the multiple relevant policy goals.

Peter Swire, J.Z. Liang Chair, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Join us

The scope of data portability is as broad and diverse as user data itself. We welcome you to join us in our efforts. To follow along with DTI’s work going forward, please sign up below.

Keep up with the Data Transfer Initiative

* indicates required