Federal Trade Commission held workshop addressing data portability

BY Alycia A. Ziarno

On September 22, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) held an all-day workshop addressing data portability. Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, delivered the opening remarks. He explained that data portability was of particular interest to the FTC because it can offer benefits to consumers and competition — both areas within the FTC’s domain. For example, he explained, freeing up data can give consumers more choice and control over their data. At the same time, it can spur innovation and increase competition by, among other things, lowering barriers to entry into a market. The program was put together by a cross-agency team from the FTC comprising members from the Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Bureau of Competition.

The first session of the day provided a general overview of data portability. The second addressed data portability initiatives in the European Union, California, and India. The third session zeroed in on the financial and health sectors, and the issues particularly relevant to businesses in those sectors. The discussion then turned to exploring the attributes, benefits, and challenges of data portability initiatives, with a focus on the twin aims of protecting consumers and promoting competition. Finally, the day concluded with a look at the key concerns related to data portability initiatives, including security, privacy, standardization, and interoperability.

A lot was packed into a single day, and the issues raised and addressed were most certainly not resolved, but it was the start of a robust conversation we expect to hear much more about in the future. For more information and to watch videos of the various sessions, you can go to

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Alycia A. Ziarno


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