Regulation

Proposed Social Media Law Would Let Data Flow Among Platforms

Consumers would be able to move data from one app to another

A proposed law created to increase competition in the tech sector would allow users to move their data between social media platforms.

The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act, introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D., Va.), Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), has three mandates for platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users. The first would require them to make it easy for users to move their data from one platform to another, while a second mandate would require “interoperability” by competitors. And the third order would have platforms allow other firms to manage a user’s account settings if given permission.

“As a former cell phone guy, I saw what a game-changer number portability was for that industry. By making it easier for social media users to easily move their data or to continue to communicate with their friends after switching platforms, startups will be able to compete on equal terms with the biggest social media companies,” said Warner, a former technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist, in a press release. “And empowering trusted custodial companies to step in on behalf of users to better manage their accounts across different platforms will help balance the playing field between consumers and companies. In other words — by enabling portability, interoperability, and delegatability, this bill will help put consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to how and where they use social media.”

Tech giants including Facebook, Twitter Inc., and Alphabet Inc. — owner of YouTube and Google — have already voiced their support for the Data Transfer Project, which also aims to allow users to move their data from one platform to another.

“We believe people should be able to move their data from one service or app to another,” Facebook said in a statement attributed to Kevin Martin, its vice president of U.S. public policy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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