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Fundamental Interests and Open Data for Re-Use

DOI: 10.1093/ijlit/eas014

Cerrillo-i-Martínez, A. “Fundamental Interests and Open Data for Re-Use.” International Journal of Law and Information Technology 20.3 (2012): 203–222. Print.

p.203: Public sector information plays an important role in that it constitutes a powerful tool for bolstering democratic values and a solid base upon which to build our knowledge economy. Nevertheless, current legislation on different uses of public sector information does not allow for the creation or taking advantage of all the opportunities permitted by the development and scope of information and communication technologies. The aim of this article is to analyse the interests involved in public sector information and the protection offered at any given time by the different existing legal instruments. It also seeks to assess the impact of the open data movement with regard to the different interests involved and the extent to which current regulations can provide it cover. Finally, it proposes the main elements of new regulations that reflect today’s needs and opportunities of public sector information. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.204: In this work, our hypothesis is that the emergence of new uses of public sector information thanks to technological development requires new regulations that guarantee different fundamental interest at stake. In the next pages, we will analyze different mechanisms to disseminate public sector information stated in different regulations focusing on the newest related to the open datamovement. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.204: In carrying out our study, the methodology used focuses solely on analysing European Union regulations and reading its academic interpretation, without looking in detail at their transposition into the laws of Member States. However, to illustrate some ideas given in the text, we have used concrete rules stated by the Member States or particular experiences related to the use of electronic means in public sector information use and re-use. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.204: Over the course of the past three decades, it has been possible to observe an evolution in the mechanisms via which citizens can obtain public sector information, driven by three forces that have manifested themselves differently depending upon the time and the players involved. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.204: Firstly, knowledge economy development where public sector information has become an asset on the market, to which value can be added and which can become the basis for offering goods and services. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.205: Secondly, technological developments mean that it is easier to find, collate and disseminate public sector information. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.205: Lastly, democratic governance that advocates—with regard to both European Union institutions and Member States—a revitalizing of the democratic quality of public bodies. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.206: The purpose of accessing documents is to help citizens gain an a posteriori understanding of the workings of the authorities. Indeed, accessing official documents is known as an ex post or reactive mechanism for transparency that merely requires the authorities to provide information to citizens when so asked, making it more of a mechanism for monitoring the activities of the authorities and holding them accountable. 8 -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.207: Transparency is characterized by the existence of public sector information that is made available to citizens via different mechanisms to achieve different goals, such as increasing the democratic legitimacy of public administrations and their accountability to citizens, reducing abuses of power and corruption. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.209: Unlike the right to access, the dissemination of information not only constitutes a mechanism for monitoring the activities of public administrations, but it also allows citizens and enterprises to become aware of the public information required for both their daily existence and for both exercising their rights and complying with their duties, carrying on their activities and enjoying public services, understanding the activities of the public administrations and participating in public life. Additionally, in some cases, and more or less formally, the dissemination of public sector information by electronic means has been linked to its re-use. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.209: Dissemination is thus an ex ante and proactive transparency mechanism, whichmeans that the activities of public administrations can be continuously disseminated by them and understood by citizens. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.211: The dissemination of public sector information has a number of different purposes. First, it seeks to increase transparency. This is perhaps its main goal and one that has, additionally, been greatly helped by the growth of electronic means and by the appearance of new technologies and applications (digital terrestrial television and social networks, to give but two examples) that facilitate not only the dissemination of information but also its personalized receipt by citizens. Secondly, the exercising of citizens’ rights, insofar as they may make themselves aware of its content and scope, as well as the mechanisms contemplated for their exercise and, linked thereto, administrative efficiency. Thirdly, the development of the freedom to conduct business, in that the public administrations disseminate, via the Internet and other electronic means, the information required for citizens to carry on their business activities. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.212: Public sector information has an important role to play as an economic and transnational driving force. As is well known, the European Union has played a vital role in promoting its re-use and in establishing rules of the game that eliminate internal market obstacles to re-use, discriminatory practises, monopolistic markets based on exclusive agreements and the lack of transparency. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.214-215: In recent years, the three forces alluded to at the beginning of this article (knowledge economy and the economic value of public sector information, technological development and the promotion of democratic governance and transparency) are coming together more intensely and in a joint manner with regard to public sector information and are facilitating the promotion of a new movement linked to public sector information known as ‘open data’. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.216: In this regard, Tim Berners-Lee, one of the main proponents of open data in the UK, states that ‘Government data is being put online to increase accountability, contribute valuable information about the world, and to enable government, the country, and the world to function more efficiently’. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.216: In the same sense, Shadboldt who observes that ‘open data makes governments transparent, accountable and efficient. It can create social and economic value. At a European level open data could be transformative and this competition will show how’. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.217: In fact, generally speaking, the open data movement is taking advantage of the differentmechanisms contemplated in different regulations governing access to and dissemination and re-use of public sector information to make available public sector information to citizens and trying to ensure that any restrictions arising from the regulations on the protection of personal data or intellectual property do not excessively limit the dissemination and re-use of public data. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.217: In the end, as OECD has stated: following policies of open and transparent government has several advantages: (i) an increase in the possibilities of making governments more accountable for their actions; (ii) the opportunity to provide businesses with ways to create new economic activities through the use of public information and data collected for administrative purposes by the public sector; and (iii) a way to introduce a visible tool to consolidate how public information and data are organized and stored. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.218: The open data movement makes new requirements of the legal system to achieve the goals that society actually demands, to protect different interests connected to public sector information and to facilitate the provision of public sector information to citizens. Furthermore, there is a need to improve current regulation as: despite the minimum harmonization in 2003 through the Directive on the re-use of public sector information, significant differences in national rules and practices persist. This leads to fragmentation of the internal information market and hinders the creation of cross-border information services. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.218: For some citizens, information on public procurement will be of help in monitoring government activities to prevent corruption and therefore used with the aim of increasing transparency. For others, it may form the basis to create an information service for enterprises to detect new business opportunities. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.220: Similarly, any revision of current access and re-use regulations must guarantee compliance with the different objectives (chiefly, those of transparency and the freedom to conduct business and, on an ancillary basis, protection of personal data, protection of intellectual property and other interests that may be negatively impacted) such that, once again, a linkmust bemade between accessing information and its re-use, which, only on specific occasions and when there are interests at play that require greater protection, should be limited or made conditional via a licence requiring a special procedure. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014

p.221: As far as the freedom to conduct business is concerned, support should be given to providing information in reusable formats. Turning to personal data protection, progress needs to be made towards producing information that facilitates its anonymization. Finally, in line with what happens today, the new regulations must protect other interests at play, both public and private, which should lead to a limitation of the right to access and re-use public sector information. -- Highlighted may 1, 2014