Data Liberation Front: Many Types of Goodness

The Data Liberation Front is a team at Google with a laudable mission.

Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google’s products. Our team’s goal is to make it easier to move data in and out.

The DLF is good, in many ways. Its mission is good, in that it’s ethical. I believe that the DLF will be good for Google, the profit-seeking firm. Let me break out some reasons, starting with those most relevant to ethics (good for society) and moving toward those most relevant to profit (good for Google shareholders).

  1. Yes, users should be able to control their data.
  2. Don’t be evil is a Google motto that arouses more cynicism as Google gets older and bigger. The DLF is a Google team opposed to the evil of lockin.
  3. Many users are wary of where they store their data. Such users, when evaluating a software tool, will want to verify that there is a way out before they bring their data in. The DLF is building and verifying ways out.
  4. As Google encourages users to bring stuff into Google services and out of non-Google services, it can point to DLF to show that Google doesn’t believe in one-way streets into Google. It believes in two-way streets, with the user being allowed to set the direction. If you want an example of something that Google is offering to take over for you, how about voicemail?
  5. Although most of the coverage of DLF has been about moving data out of Google services if you want to, note that the mission is “to make it easier to move data in and out” (emphasis added by me).

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