In the wake of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on personal data, Europe is moving the data agenda forward with an agreement on public sector data.
The European Parliament, Commission and Council have agreed on a revised Directive. Once adopted, it would be renamed the Open Data and Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive, and will make public sector and publicly-funded data available and re-usable.
The Directive advocates increasing both availability and quality of public sector data in order to increase its reusability. A solid framework has been put in place to guide what data needs to be open and how potential costs would be calculated.
The aim of this legal framework is to promote transparency, accountability and fair competition. This will create greater opportunity for products and services innovation, and help contribute to growth in the business sector.
The new Directive focuses particularly on high-value datasets, such as statistics and geospatial data, because of their high commercial potential. Publicly-funded research data is also of significance. Member States will be required to develop open access policies for publicly funded research data. New rules will also facilitate the re-usability of research data that is already contained in open repositories.
All public sector content attained under the EU access to documents rules will be freely available for reuse. Public sector bodies will not be able to charge more than a marginal cost for the reuse of their data, except in very limited cases.
Organisations will have to comply with the principles of the Directive and ensure the use of appropriate data formats and dissemination methods, while still being able to set charges to recoup costs.
Under the Directive, transparency will be promoted by strengthening requirement for public-private agreements in order to avoid exclusive business agreements around the reuse of public sector data by private partners. The new data sharing directive is fully compliant with GDPR, and Member States will have two years to implement it.
It is obvious that Europe is moving in the right direction, and understands the changing nature of the digital economy over recent years and the fact that more and more new technologies and innovations now rely on vast amounts of data. Through the creation of this Directive and the sharing of public sector data, the EU is helping promote and advocate for the open data movement. More and better access to open data will be achieved, and this will lead the way to the promotion of more open policies in all major sectors such as health, research, technology, and of course agriculture and nutrition.
About the Author: Foteini Zampati is a legal professional with over 15 years of experience. She works for KTBL as a data rights research specialist, advising the GODAN initiative on the ethical and legal aspects of open data.
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