Facebook Introduces ‘Data Transfer Project’ Allowing for Seamless Photo Transfer

Published on December 2, 2019

On Monday, Facebook announced the release of a new tool that will allow its users to transfer photos directly to Google Photos. Making its initial debut in Ireland, Facebook plans to roll out the tool to the rest of the world in the first half of 2020. The tool is part of what the company calls the “Data Transfer Project” (DTP) which also includes participants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and others.

Launched in 2018, the DTP was created as an open-source, service-to-service data portability platform so that all individuals across the web could easily move their data between online service providers whenever they want. Facebook initially published its DTP whitepaper back in September that explored privacy questions and innovative tools that were centered around data portability.

The heart behind this project is centered around the notion that “if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another.” For data privacy enthusiasts, this is also known as “data portability,” which gives individuals the control and choice on how to use and distribute their data.

Since [September], 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,” explained Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook.

 As this is the very beginning of the project, Facebook says it’s only focused on the implementation with Google Photos, but plans to include other services in the future. For those users, myself included, who don’t automatically backup pictures from their phone, waiting until the night before or day of upgrading to do so, this tool is a lifesaver.

For almost a decade, we’ve enabled people to download their information from Facebook,” Satterfield added. “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.”

As of the date of this article, there are 18 contributors from a combination of partners and the open source community, which have inserted “more than 42,000 lines of code and changed more than 1,500 files,” according to the DTP website.

This of course will be met with some scrutiny following the current investigation into the company’s data collection behaviors by lawmakers and regulators.

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.”

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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