Today, Microsoft launched a new API that enables better and more secure address book portability. That’s certainly a welcome step, but what I found really fascinating is the way they describe the context:
“To tackle the issue of contact data portability it is important to reconcile the larger issue of data ownership. Who owns the data, like email addresses in a Windows Live Hotmail address book? We firmly believe that we are simply stewards of customers’ data and that customers should be able to choose how they control and share their data.”
I call that breathtaking. It was only a few months ago that Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington co-authored the Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web, which asserts:
“We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:
- Ownership of their own personal information, including:
- their own profile data
- the list of people they are connected to
- the activity stream of content they create;
- Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
- Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.”
Microsoft’s announcement and how it is framed hits the ball out of the park on bullets one and two. But because the API is built for import, not for sync, it comes a bit short on bullet three. Nonetheless, this is a big day for data portability.
My hat is off to Microsoft!