Robert Scoble describes some “real roadblocks to data portability“. He makes some good points that may make it challenging to implement automated data portability.
In short he says,
So, the story is, doing the simplest of data portability (for instance, making all systems understand when I changed my email address) is going to take a lot of work and a lot of cooperation between all of the players). Doing the toughest stuff (like sharing of some of the social graph, or making things like photos and videos portable) will take a lot longer.
For some reason, we expect this highly disparate systems to magically integrate with each other and let data flow between them without problem. Anyone who has spent time working in the systems integration arena knows that this is really hard.
I think it might be helpful to look at this differently. Today, we have human powered system integration. I am my own data portability hub carrying information about me from one place to the other and manually going to each place to update my data. Aside from the manual intensity of this process, I kind of like it. I like the fact that I have control over the data and where it goes.
Expecting disparate systems to get to data portability is going to take a long time. However, I could publish my own data portability feed. It would contain the data about me, the services I subscribe to, and include my friends feeds to designate who else I am connected to.
I would leave the security settings aside for now and let me manage my settings within the context of a service. These security settings are likely to require more privacy and will be much harder to handle.
This kind of data portability feed should not be hard to implement and would get things started sooner rather than later.