As a child I remember receiving a perscription from the doctor. A piece of paper with some nonsensical scribbles on it. Mom and I would take to the pharmacy and in return receive some medication. Other times I remember going to an eye doctor, receiving a paper perscription to take to someone else to get glasses. Or going from station to station where a technician would add numbers and information to a form that I was carrying around.
In a simple way, these were basic forms of data portability. There were no computerised centralised systems. I was the courier of the information. Over time computers came in and my courier days were done. The expectation now is that I am a file on a machine which everyone accesses. Except me. And I don’t know who has access to my file.
If I’m applying for something and need to show something about my health history, I need to ask the health professionals for copies or to do it for me. Same is true for transcripts of my education.
And yet, more often than not, the information sought is ‘does this person meet certain criteria’. Not the specifics. E.g. Am I over 18 not my birthday or have I already received my free lunch, etc.
Data portability is rooted in referrals and meeting various criteria. And it centres around person in question being the courier and the keeper of the keys.