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You've just signed up with another online service and now you have to set up your account data, add your friends and contacts, and enter loads of other info. If only there were a way you could quickly populate all those details. Well, your wish is the tech industry's command.

SEE: How to protect your personal data from your ISP

A proposed service dubbed the Data Transfer Project, or DTP, aims to simplify the process of sharing your data across the Web. Led by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, the DTP will use a data-transfer mechanism that will let users move information from one online service to another.

Often, the most time-consuming part of signing up with an online service is having to re-create all the account information you've already created for other sites. The DTP initiative aims to mitigate that burden by allowing you to transfer all that information from one site to another. Beyond the time and effort saved, this process could help you better view and manage the data each service has gathered about you.

The DTP outlined a few examples in which this process could come in handy.

You might want to try out a new photo printing service but all your photos are stored with a different provider. You may no longer like your existing music provider but are hesitant to try another since all your playlists are stored with your current service. You could be using an online provider that's going out of business but face challenges moving your data elsewhere. Or you might have loyalty points from one supermarket and would like to use them in another store of the same chain. In each of these scenarios, the DTP would facility the process by moving or copying your data.

Beyond benefiting users and major tech players, the DTP could help smaller services and start-up companies. You might be more tempted to try out a new service if you could speed through the sign-up and setup process by simply porting over your existing data.

"Making it easier for individuals to choose among services facilitates competition, empowers individuals to try new services and enables them to choose the offering that best suits their needs," the DTP said.

Moving personal data between services also opens up privacy issues, and DTP is looking at how to keep user data secure.

Kicked off in 2017, the DTP is still in development and so isn't ready for anyone to try it out. But the tech players behind the project are inviting companies to test it and individuals to join the discussion to try to make DTP a reality.

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Takeaways

  1. The Data Transfer Project would allow you to easily and quickly move your account data from one online company to another.
  2. The initiative could help you better view and control the data stored by each online provider.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."