Portability policies are an intriguing innovation

One of the fundamental and inherent technical shifts that are happening as computing moves to the cloud — for enterprise functioning and for more personal things like enjoyment of social media — pertains to the location of the user data being acted upon. Just think about how many different sites and providers across the web store and process and display uploaded user information.

The utility of this information is, in general, enhanced when there are well-understood ways that the uploaded data — whether as-uploaded or as-modified by the service or through user collaboration — can be moved to other computing environments. In some circumstances, easily-moved data is a good thing (think social networking profiles). In other circumstances, a user may want to know that his or her data will securely stay put (think medical information). The contours of the ability to move information is the subject of the notion of “data portability.”

It’s getting to the point where data portability is a real, practical issue. And it’s important enough that the topic should be addressed in terms of the legal relations between user and provider. Enter “portability policies.”

A portability policy — much like a website terms of service or privacy policy — serves to specify the understandings and the legal obligations between parties to a technological transaction. PortabilityPolicy.org is a new project from the DataPortability Project to make the portability policy drafting process easier, and the end results more standardized.

It looks intriguing. Here’s more information about the project from Techdirt.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Extra Ketchup under this Creative Commons license.