By: Rob Pegoraro August 2, 2017
A massive European Union regulation going into effect next May could deliver an unexpected benefit on the other side of the Atlantic: letting you take your data from social networks that today don’t let you download what you uploaded — then move it to another network.
This “data portability” mandate is one of many key provisions in the EU’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation, the product of a privacy-policy effort that began in 2012. And it’s also the one most likely to benefit you, even if you never cross the pond.
Data portability is good but often absent
Privacy rules traditionally stop a company from giving your data to others. But Article 20 of the GDPR’s roughly 54,000-word text says nothing about that. Instead, it requires that a company you’ve uploaded your data to give it back to you “in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format” — that is, one that you could then move to a competing service. Other provisions require the original company to delete your old data on request.