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Facebook partners with two more companies ahead of FTC hearing on data portability

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Thursday its users can transfer photos and videos stored on its servers to two new tech platforms - its latest move to address antitrust concerns by giving users an option to easily leave the company’s services.

The social media company’s new partners are cloud storage firms Dropbox and Koofr - a Europen Union-based startup. Facebook announced a similar partnership with Alphabet-owned Google Photos in April.

The feature that allows such transfers is called data portability. It gives users more control over their data and allows the social media company to respond to U.S. regulators and lawmakers who are investigating its competitive practices and allegations it has stifled competition.

Facebook’s move comes ahead of a hearing set up by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Sept. 22 to examine the potential benefits and challenges of data portability. Control of data that hurts competition has become a critical topic in the antitrust debate in the United States and Europe.

Earlier this month, Facebook sent comments to the FTC in which it pushed for data portability legislation.

Facebook also said a portability bill called the Access Act, already doing the rounds in Congress from Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Mark Warner and Republican senator Josh Hawley, is a good first step and that it will continue engaing with lawmakers on it.

Smaller technology companies will be more willing to partner with Facebook once regulations around data portability become more clear, Bijan Madhani, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook told Reuters.

Data portability is a requirement under Europe’s privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s privacy law called the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; editing by Richard Pullin

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