Users contribute information to many digital platforms. Regulators have recognized that when such data cannot be easily moved between platforms, this may lock those users in to incumbent platforms and prevent innovative competitors from emerging. I argue that the same type of barriers exists with respect to networks of users. Users who move between platforms could lose the benefits of communications within their social network. I therefore propose to generalize data portability to a broader notion of identity portability, whereby messages (i.e., communications and content intended to be shared with other users) between verified connections can flow between platforms, thereby mitigating these broader switching costs and promoting competition.
Report Produced by The Hamilton Project