Under pressure, Facebook and Google give a guarantee of openness

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The announcement was the subject of a post on
the official blog of Facebook

    Monday: social network users will soon be able to export their photos and videos to other platforms. This is a first for the Menlo Park group.

"At Facebook, we believe that if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. This is the principle of data portability, which gives people control and choice, while at the same time encouraging innovation. ", says Steve Satterfield, head of privacy and public policy for the group.

A very small first step

If the philosophy is clear, its application is very shy. Only photos and videos will be able to be uploaded, only to Google Photos, the online storage service of the Mountain View group. And only Irish users are concerned; others should have access to the tool in the first half of 2020.

Suffice to say that we are far from a general portability of data, yet defined as a right in Europe in the RGPD (European Data Protection Regulation),
entered into force a year and a half ago

   . Under Article 20, individuals may recover the data provided "In a structured, commonly used and machine readable format" and get a direct transmission between two services "When technically possible".

White Book

Facebook has since explained all the problems raised by this new right. In
a White Paper published in September

    on the issue, Mark Zuckerberg's group writes that "Some commentators have suggested that Cambridge Analytica has taken place because of the portability of data" and list several outstanding issues. What data can be transferred? Does a Facebook contact agree that this relationship is known to another service – such as LinkedIn or TikTok? If a video shows several people, who should agree?

In the wake of the RGPD, several big names in American tech (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, joined last summer by Apple) have launched an initiative: the Data Transfer Project, to work on the mechanisms of portability. The export of photos from Facebook to Google is the first concrete realization. Stakeholders are hoping for others. But it was probably important to give a pledge quickly.

Actors under pressure

The pressure is mounting on the digital giants. The questioning – by France and, more broadly, by the OECD – of fiscal strategies to avoid Gafa is currently triggering
geopolitical tensions between the two shores of the Atlantic

   . The pressure is also political. The debate on
misleading election advertising

    rages ahead of the general elections in the UK and the US presidential election of 2020. It is finally – and this is the most dangerous for Silicon Valley – regulatory.

In the USA,
investigations have been launched

   by the US Department of Justice and the Commerce Commission on anti-competitive practices of the Gafa. And in Europe, the Commission has just revealed that it sent questionnaires to Google and Facebook as part of a preliminary investigation into the collection and use of data.

As these threats become clearer, the Gafa give small pledges of openness, while urging regulators to be cautious. "The data is infinitely divisible and infinitely shareable. Data is something you can both share and keep at the same timeresponded Nick Clegg, Facebook's director of public affairs. We urge regulators and legislators not to be trapped by comparisons that do not apply to the digital world. "


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