Google's Data Liberation Front commits to making it easy to get your data off of Google's servers

Kudos to Google for committing to data-portability in its online applications: its new "Data Liberation Front" initiative makes it easier to take your data and move it back to your own computer, or a competing service.
We're a small team of Google Chicago engineers (named after a Monty Python skit about the Judean People's Front) 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. Our goal is to "liberate" data so that consumers and businesses using Google products always have a choice when it comes to the technology they use.

What does product liberation look like? Said simply, a liberated product is one which has built-in features that make it easy (and free) to remove your data from the product in the event that you'd like to take it elsewhere.

Introducing Liberate your data! (via /.)


  1. Very cool.

    I’ve got tons docs and mail and contacts and to do lists and analytics…all in Google. Sometimes I worry about what happens if Google goes bust (or turns evil).

    This initiative goes a long way towards quieting the voice in my head that keeps going, “too much Google!”

  2. Does this include, when “taking information off” of googles servers, that it is no longer “on Google” as in google keeping a copy?

    Or just that once you upload, you get a copy too?

    Their ‘persistence’ policy of reading and tracking everything you do with google, their policy of only ‘deleting’ what _you_ can see of the data stored with them, and not deleting what they have collected and what you upload or store is…. whats the word…oh yes, evil.

    If they are beginning to consider removing that data, it would be a big turn around.

  3. I highly approve, and agree with #1. Problem is, there are still too many tools these days which are putting data onto Google in the first place… and Google’s user agreement just doesn’t have the kind of customer responsibility written into it that more traditional businesses have (banks, to take the first one that comes to mind.)

    Cloud services are a fine idea. But I think I’d rather pay for one actually designed as a service rather than trust someone whose first responsibility is to their advertisers.

    (I don’t think Google is evil… but I don’t trust them to resist the dark side.)

  4. Judean Peoples’ Front isn’t a skit, it’s part of the movie Life of Brian.

    Dammit, Google, I thought your slogan was Don’t Be Evil!

  5. Anonymous2, I think you may want to reassess your definition of ‘evil’.

    Also, practically all internet services that handle people’s data (which is most of them) have a similar clause, saying that even if you remove your data, there may still be a residual copy on their servers.

    This is not just a problem with Google, it’s a problem with mass-data.

  6. That is one of the most bad-ass logos ever created. In today’s blipvert culture, NOTHING exists unless it has a catchy soundbite and/or visual graphic that can appear on a sticker. This project nails them both!

  7. Said simply, a liberated product is one which has built-in features that make it easy (and free) to remove your data from the product in the event that you’d like to take it elsewhere.

    That definition is too broad.

    Removing your data from a site is fine if it’s all yours. But what if it’s bricks in a shared wall?

    Over the last year or two, I’ve seen a small but increasing trickle of users who believe they should have the right to have their comments deleted from interdependent online conversations. I emphatically disagree.

    Sure, the users own their own words. No other person has the right to duplicate, re-use, or reprocess their words which appear in that conversation.

    However, they don’t own the conversation. It’s a shared construction. The words they contributed to it got built into its structure. They don’t have the right to come back later, chop it to pieces, and destroy its context.

  8. It rather looks as if they mean remove in the sense of “get a copy out” rather than in the sense of “delete”.

    Disingenuous, to say the least.

  9. Hmm. Given their own admissions regarding the origins of their name, they could hardly complain if someone started a “people’s front of data-liberation” with the goal of actually deleting the data.

    The nicest thing they could do would be to call us “splitters!”

    (Apologies to anyone reading this who hasn’t seen Life Of Brian.)

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