(Reuters) — Facebook will permit customers within the United States and Canada to switch pictures and movies to a rival tech platform for the primary time – a step that might assuage antitrust considerations by giving customers an possibility to simply depart the corporate’s companies, the social media community mentioned on Thursday.

The instrument lets Facebook customers switch information saved on its servers immediately to a different picture storage service, on this case Google Photos – a characteristic often known as information portability.

U.S. and Canadian customers will be capable to entry the instrument by means of their Facebook accounts beginning Thursday. The operate has already been launched in a number of nations together with in Europe and Latin America.

It permits the social media firm to present customers extra management over their information and reply to U.S. regulators and lawmakers who’re investigating its aggressive practices and allegations it has stifled competitors.

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The U.S. launch additionally comes forward of a listening to arrange by the Federal Trade Commission on Sept. 22 to look at the potential advantages and challenges of knowledge portability. Control of knowledge that hurts competitors has change into a vital subject within the antitrust debate within the United States and Europe.

Facebook’s Director of Privacy and Public Policy Steve Satterfield mentioned over the previous couple of years, the corporate heard calls from policymakers and regulators asking it to facilitate alternative, make it simpler for individuals to decide on new suppliers and transfer their information to new companies.

“So it really is an important part of the response to the kinds of concerns that drive antitrust regulation or competition regulation,” Satterfield informed Reuters in an interview.

He mentioned the corporate could be open to collaborating within the FTC listening to if the company approaches them.

Data portability is a requirement below Europe’s privateness regulation referred to as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s privateness regulation referred to as the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).

Also, Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mark Warner of Virginia together with Republican senator Josh Hawley of Missouri launched a invoice, often known as the ACCESS Act, in October, which requires massive tech platforms to let their customers simply transfer their information to different companies.

Satterfield mentioned Facebook hopes to finally permit customers to maneuver key information reminiscent of their contacts, good friend lists and so on onto one other platform in a means that protects person privateness.

Facebook developed its information portability instrument as a member of the Data Transfer Project – which was fashioned to permit internet customers to simply transfer their information between on-line service suppliers every time they need – and counts Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple amongst its contributors.

Members of the venture are additionally taking a look at letting customers switch information reminiscent of emails, playlists and occasions sooner or later, the corporate mentioned.

On a name with lecturers and coverage consultants from the fields of competitors and privateness on Wednesday, Facebook mentioned it’s transferring intentionally on information switch partnerships with third-parties to keep away from a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica incident.

The now defunct British political consulting agency harvested the private information of tens of millions of Facebook customers with out their consent and used it for political promoting.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington, Editing by Chris Sanders and Cynthia Osterman)