In context: Hacks and leaks have led to a privacy and data-conscious environment unlike any other. As such, several large companies now provide download tools so users can have direct access to all the data a company may have on them, but really, how useful is that if you aren't able to actually do something meaningful with the downloaded content or easily transfer it to another service?

Some would argue that download tools are presented as little more than proof that a user really does own their data.

To address this concern, several major data players including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter are banding together to participate in the Data Transfer Project which aims to build a common way for people to transfer data into and out of various online services.

Say, for example, you stumble upon a photo printing service you want to use, but all of your pictures are stored on social media. The project would enable you to easily transfer images from social media to the printing service.

Or, maybe you're looking to move to a different streaming music provider due to a recent change in the terms of service that you don't agree with. With the open-source software, you'd be able to transfer your playlist to the cloud then import it into the new provider's platform once you decide on a new service.

The project is still in the early stages but seems to offer plenty of upside, both to consumers and businesses. It'll facilitate competition which would help keep regulators at bay and encourage consumers to find the offering that best suits their needs. It'll also likely spur additional data privacy concerns but those should be kept in check with proper encryption protocols.