Google Data Liberation Front is sworn in
A band of Google engineers – rather anarchically dubbed the Google Data Liberation Front – is attempting to free personal data from the search giant’s grip.
The group claim to have been inspired by Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s 2004 proclamation that “Google doesn’t lock its users in”. Based on that premise, the Data Liberation Front has set up a website explaining how to spring your data from various Google services.
The site includes instructions on “how to escape from” GMail, Docs, blogger and several more of the company’s most prominent services.
Although it’s hard to gauge whether the service is a genuine attempt to release personal data or a clever marketing wheeze, Google claims freeing customers’ data will actually help the company in the long run. “Rather than locking in our users artificially, it makes us earn our users’ loyalty by building great products and constantly improving them,” the Front’s Brian Fitzpatrick claims on the Data Liberation Blog. “If we stop making our products compelling and useful, we lose you as a user. It’s just that simple.”
“We’re a small team of Google engineers that aims to make it easy for our users to transfer their personal data in and out of Google’s services, by building simple import and export functions,” Fitzpatrick adds. “I wanted to make sure that users (myself included, as a consumer of Google products!) always had a choice.”
The move could put pressure on other online service providers to follow suit, a move that could ultimately benefit Google.