Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Three senators representing both parties introduced legislation Tuesday to force large technology companies -- like Facebook and Google -- to create tools users can use to transfer personal data to other services.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; and Mark Warner, D-Va. are sponsors of the bill, which they say will make it easier for social media users to migrant information to other platforms and allow startups to better compete.
The bill is an antitrust measure intended to keep any one company from gaining too much power in the market -- a prospect the senators believe more likely if users must risk losing their data by switching platforms.
The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching, of ACCESS Act, would apply to companies with more than 100 million active users in the United States.
"Your data is your property. Period," Hawley said in a statement. "Consumers should have the flexibility to choose new online platforms without artificial barriers to entry. This bill creates long-overdue requirements that will boost competition and give consumers the power to move their data from one service to another."
The senators said they believe their bill would encourage innovation and increase consumer choice.
"The exclusive dominance of Facebook and Google have crowded out the meaningful competition that is needed to protect online privacy and promote technological innovation," Blumenthal said.
"As we learned in the Microsoft antitrust case, interoperability and portability are powerful tools to restrain anti-competitive behaviors and promote innovative new companies."
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg warned last spring that "clear rules" are needed to guard information as it moves from one platform to another.
"True data portability should look more like the way people use our platform to sign into an app than the existing ways you can download an archive of your information," he wrote in an op-ed.
The bill is somewhat similar to rules Congress established with wireless phone companies in 1996, which allowed customers to keep their numbers when moving from one carrier to another -- giving them more freedom to switch cellular providers.