If you’re like the average Google user, you’ve now got a lot of personal data—emails, addresses, calendars, documents, photos and videos, maybe even health records—in their system. This is fine with them, because the Google Hive Mind needs all of this data to eventually become self aware and enslave us. However, if you ever want to get that information out of Google, the company has created something they call the Data Liberation Front to make it easier for you.
Webmonkey notes that data portability has become an increasingly salient problem as more and more people store their data with various online services. Unfortunately, no open standards have emerged yet, which is why Google decided to put together a team that could at least address its own services.
The name might be a bit of a joke, but the idea is not. The Data Liberation Front wants to make it easier for you to get your data out of Google services and take it wherever you please. In other words, Google wants you to use their services because you like them, not because you’re trapped in them.
You might want to bookmark the DLF home page for future reference if you have Google accounts, because they list all of Google’s services there with links to how to get your data out of each one of them. That’s the “do no evil” good news; the bad news is not every Google product or service makes the process easy—which, to its credit, the DLF openly admits.
The organization also offers some really good advice that we should apply to any online service before signing up:
People usually don’t look to see if they can get their data out of a product until they decide one day that they want to leave For this reason, we always encourage people to ask these three questions before starting to use a product that will store their data:
1. Can I get my data out at all?
2. How much is it going to cost to get my data out?
3. How much of my time is it going to take to get my data out?
The ideal answers to these questions are:
2. Nothing more than I’m already paying.
3. As little as possible.
There shouldn’t be an additional charge to export your data. Beyond that, if it takes you many hours to get your data out, it’s almost as bad as not being able to get your data out at all.