Mandatory Data Portability and Interoperability: What are the Costs and Benefits?

Technology Policy Institute

05/21/2020 - 12:00

Technology policy experts with inside experience at Facebook, the Department of Justice, the Council of Economic Advisors, MIT and the Federal Trade Commission will analyze the costs and benefits of congressional efforts to require data portability and interoperability from the big tech platforms.

Requiring data portability - being able to easily move one's personal data to a competing platform, perhaps together with the related requirement of "interoperability" - has become a rare point of widespread agreement. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation includes a right to data portability, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even included it in his internet regulation proposal. Portability, along with interoperability, is a central requirement of the "ACCESS" Act" introduced by Senators Warner, Hawley, and Blumenthal. Finally, three major reports on digital platform competition issues published in 2019 - by the European Commission, the United Kingdom Digital Competition Expert Panel, and the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago - endorsed a data portability requirement as well as some form of interoperability.

Advocates argue that portability and interoperability would encourage entry and competition with incumbent tech platforms, while also providing privacy benefits. The panel will discuss the validity of these claims and the costs and benefits of portability and interoperability requirements. 


  • Jason FurmanProfessor of the Practice of Economic Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; former Chairman, Council of Economic Advisors
  • Michael KatzProfessor Emeritus, Haas School of Business and Department of Economics, Sarin Chair in Strategy and Leadership, UC Berkeley; former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economic Analysis, Antitrust Division, DOJ
  • Bijan MadhaniPrivacy and Public Policy Manager, Facebook
  • Catherine TuckerSloan Distinguished Professor of Management Science, MIT Sloan

Thomas Lenard (moderator), President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute