Chris Riley

DTI’s Portability Predictions for 2024

Happy New Year, Data Transfer Initiative readers! The team at DTI hopes you’ve been enjoying our regular updates. We’ll continue them in the year ahead, and have a good set of ideas queued up, but requests and questions are always welcome – just send us a note at info@dtinit.org.

As we put the finishing touches on our first-ever annual report, we have a lot to reflect on. 2023 was a significant year for DTI as an organization. But today is about looking ahead, and I think 2024 is going to be big, both for data portability and for DTI.

So, here are a few predictions for the year ahead for the evolving portability landscape:

  1. In the EU, the DMA will produce visible change for all six currently designated gatekeepers. Lots of new third-party portability interfaces will pop up, and we will see more end-to-end transfer services (including those powered by our open-source DTP technology).
  2. In the United States, with a major election on the horizon, Congress won’t do much with tech policy, and what they do take on will center around attention grabbing issues like AI. But at least one U.S. state will move forward a bill inspired by the DMA, likely including portability obligations, as the effects of that law start to become visible.
  3. Commercial interest in being a personal data recipient will grow. We’ll begin to see companies touting the business and user value of importing data from other services.
  4. Data portability will slowly, in the public eye, become seen as something more than just archiving a copy of personal data. Greater ability to transfer new types of data, like music streaming service playlists, will showcase more of the competitive benefits of portability.
  5. We’ll start to see exploration in downstream tech making new uses of ported data, not just like-to-like transfers between similar services. But for 2024, such vertical transfers will stay more in the “early growth” stage rather than showing major market impact.
  6. Discussions of portability in standards contexts will increase. They will primarily be broad-ranging and high-level, including debates about whether grand-unified approaches or per-vertical approaches are more appropriate, with companies adopting both approaches in practice as well as non-standard (unilateral) APIs.
  7. By and large the supply for data portability will exceed the user demand, as public awareness continues to catch up to still-nascent user value and business opportunity.
  8. The tone of portability discussions will continue to be more positive than negative, highlighting the opportunity for constructive collaboration and real impact, in contrast to the rancor that more typically characterizes tech politics.

Building on that confluence of positive business opportunity, user awareness, and constructive collaboration, DTI itself will grow – we anticipate adding new partners and staff, expanding our footprint to help continue to catalyze action on data portability. We’re proud to be leading on this issue and eager to show data portability as simultaneously one of the most actionable near-term ways to make collective progress in the tech ecosystem, yet also a powerful long-term foundation for a user-centric internet future.

We’re glad to have you along with us on this journey. Thanks for reading, and again, happy new year!