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EC Proposes to Update Public Data Directive

Source: freedominfo.org

Date: 15 December 2011

The European Commission Dec. 12 proposed revisions to its 2003 directive on public sector information intended to encourage European governments to make more data available to the public.

See the announcement and explanatory information.

Other new elements of the proposal, according to the EC explanation, include:

  • All public data that is not covered by one of the exceptions will become re-usable. Thus, the Directive creates a genuine right to re-use public information, absent from the original Directive;
  • The general rule for charging will be that public sector bodies can charge at maximum the marginal cost for disseminating the information. In exceptional cases only, full cost recovery (plus a reasonable return on investment) will remain possible.
  • Data should be made available in machine-readable formats where possible;
  • There will be independent supervision of the implementation of the rules in all the Member States.

Some Expansion in Scope

The updated PSI Directive “proposes to make these minimal set of rules applicable to cultural heritage institutions such as libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives which are currently not subject to EU PSI rules.” The new proposal will still not apply to:

  • Bodies of industrial or commercial character, e.g. public transport authorities;
  • Educational and research establishments,
  • Performing cultural institutions such as operas, ballets and theatres as well as public service broadcasters, as there may be issues related to intellectual property rights.

Neelie Kroes, commission vice president, said: “We are sending a strong signal to administrations today. Your data is worth more if you give it away. So start releasing it now: use this framework to join the other smart leaders who are already gaining from embracing open data.

“Re-users will have the right to appeal to an independent authority, which the Member State is obliged to establish either by creating a new one or by granting appropriate competence to an existing regulator, such as a national competition authority or the authority dealing with access to information,” according to the proposal. “In case of dispute over the charges, the burden to prove that the charges for re-use comply with the rules of the Directive will in the future be on the public body and not (as previously) on the re-user.”

The proposal must be approved by the European Parliament and the member states. It could come into effect in 2013, the Commission said. Member states would then have 18 months to implement it.

A number of countries, regions and municipalities have already created portal websites on accessible data, the EC said. These include http://opendata.paris.fr/.; http://www.dati.piemonte.it/; http://www.data.gov.uk/, http://www.data.gouv.fr/; http://www.data.overheid.nl/

The Commission said it will set up an Internet portal for its own data and said other EU institutions, bodies and agencies should make their information accessible through this portal, “making it the single access point to EU information.”  In 2013, the Commission said, it will establish a pan-European portal, bringing together data from different Member States as well as from the European institutions.

A €100 million budget has been established to fund research into improved data-handling technologies.

See articles on this development in The Guardian and PCWorld.

A curtain-raiser post on the announcement by Open Knowledge Foundation Director Jonathan Gray  on the Guardian’s Data Blog, provides  background information. One summary paragraph:

The European Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive was created in order to try to change this – to unlock Europe’s data and to realise its value to society. Adopted in 2003, and implemented (at least in principle) by EU Member States in 2005, the Directive has the potential to become the basis for ‘open by default’ information policies across Europe. But has it opened Europe’s data? Not exactly – at least not yet.