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Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., left, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., on Capitol Hill in July. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call.

Three prominent tech critics in the Senate will introduce new legislation Tuesday requiring social media giants to give consumers ways to move their personal data to another platform at any time.

Why it matters: The bill's goal is to loosen the grip social media platforms have on their consumers through the long-term collection and storage of their data. Allowing users to export their data — like friends lists and profile information — could give rival platforms a chance at competing with Facebook or Google's YouTube.

Details: Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), along with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) are introducing the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act.

  • In addition to data portability, the bill would also require communications platforms with over 100 million U.S. monthly active users to make their services interoperable.
  • It would require platforms to give users the option to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy, content, online interactions and account settings.

The big picture: The bill is the next installment of legislation from Warner and Hawley aiming to force dominant social media platforms to be more transparent with users about what they are giving up when logging on to the service.

  • In June, the senators partnered to introduce the DASHBOARD Act, which would require a company like Facebook to disclose how it monetizes user data and how much that data is worth.
  • They also introduced the "Do Not Track Act" to allow users to opt out of certain types of non-essential data collection, similar to the FTC's "Do Not Call "list.

Flashback: In the early days of the wireless industry, consumers avoided switching to a different wireless carrier because doing so required them to give up their phone number.

  • In 1996, Congress mandated "number portability," requiring carriers to allow consumers to keep their phone numbers when switching to a new carrier.
  • It is widely credited with promoting more competition between phone companies and allowing new entrants to compete on price and plan options.

What they're saying: Warner, who spent a large part of his career in the wireless industry, believes data is similar to phone numbers in making consumers feel locked in to a single platform.

  • With portability, "startups will be able to compete on equal term with the big behemoths," he said in a statement.
  • “Your data is your property. Period," Hawley said in a statement. "Consumers should have the flexibility to choose new online platforms without artificial barriers to entry."

Between the lines: Tech companies have long argued they are different from the telecom giants and therefore shouldn't be regulated the same way. But policymakers are increasingly seeing parallels between the dominant telecom providers and the major tech platforms, and are finding similar ways to try to rein them in.

Go deeper

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
48 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

3 hours ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.