Right to data portability

Moving your digital belongings: Easily transfer data between providers

Data portability in practice: Take your data from one service to an other!
A long time ago you set up a profile for a music streaming service. Your favorite bands, different playlists, your most-streamed songs and your favorite genres — all of this personal data accumulated over the years. By now, though, the service has gone out of fashion and you’re thinking about switching to a new service. But that seems way too complicated: You’ll have to set up a new profile and you’ll lose track of your most played songs and albums.

This is when the right to data portability comes into play: In many cases you can demand to take your data from one service to another.

Changing your provider made easy: A simplified way to move your data

With the General Data Protection Regulation, you now have the option to transfer your personal data from one provider to another. Either you can receive the data in a commonly used format and give it to another controller yourself. Or you can have your data transmitted directly from one provider to the next one.

The option to transfer your data allows for an easier transition between providers. This is meant to foster competition between different data-processing companies. “Lock-in effects’’ are reduced: Instead of being “locked in” a social network or an online shop, you have the freedom to receive your personal data and use it with a new or an additional provider.

Important to know: These restrictions apply to data portability

You can arrange the data transfer directly with the data controllers, so for example a bank or a social network. Providers must then make your data available to you as a download in a common, machine-readable format.

Unfortunately, there are a few important restrictions to the right to data portability: The right only applies if you gave your consent for the initial data processing or if the data processing is essential to fulfil a contract. Due to technical limitations, transmission isn’t possible in all cases, but data controllers are already urged to find a solution for this problem. Also, the right to data portability doesn’t apply to public data controllers such as your city administration. And if your personal data, for example posts or pictures, also affect other people, their freedoms and basic rights must be taken into account when transferring data.

The dictionary contains more details and has sources regarding your right to data portability.