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Archive for the ‘Open Data’ Category

A few Members of the European Parliament started a Written Declaration for open and collaborative government. Gianni Pittella, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Marisa Matias, Katarína Neveďalová, Marietje Schaake. Written Declarations are documents which could get co-signed by other Members of Parliament. They get adopted when they reach a majority. Written Declarations could be perceived as petitions within the European Parliament and civil society groups often pressure MEPs to sign a Written Declaration that suits their interests. Here it would be rather difficult to get them to endorse the document WD 0019/2012. The reason is simple: instead of “unrestricted” they drafted “current”. That single phrase makes the declaration appear like a Trojan horse.

0019/2012
Written declaration on open and collaborative government
The European Parliament,
– having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Aarhus Convention enshrine the right to good administration, the right to have access to documents and the right to impart information;
B. whereas citizens have increasing expectations of institutions in terms of transparency, credibility and efficiency;
C. whereas interactivity should be strongly encouraged between citizens and governments, as well as European institutions, to further enhance trust and transparency;
D. whereas Parliament aims to lead by example in providing access to information and cooperating with citizens;
1. Asserts that public sector information is a public good and must be freely available and permanently accessible online in a machine-readable, searchable and current format, consistent with personal data protection and national security interests;
2. Asserts that the Commission’s Open Data Strategy is an important step towards greater transparency and stresses that Member States need to develop such policies for transparency and accountability;
3. Asserts that the public must have the opportunity to participate in policy-making, information collection, policy development and decision-making;
4. Asks Member States and governments to collaborate with civil society to develop processes and platforms for meaningful citizen engagement in consultation and policy innovation, and report on the results;
5. Supports the Commission in developing further policies and platforms on open data and collaborative governance;
6. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission and Member States of the European Union.

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Ron Paz found a list of Council working Groups(not sure whether I mentioned it here before) and is digging into the advisory groups of the European Commission. The Commission fully discloses the groups but offers only a burdensome and complicated database. According to Ron Paz the Commission refused to release the flat data under 1049 transparency rules.

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In its recast of the Public Access to Documents implementation the Commission proposed a remarkable change to Article 4 (exemptions), paragraph 2:

2. The institutions shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of:
(a) commercial interests of a natural or legal
person,; including intellectual property,
(b) intellectual property rights;

It is quite important to get the legal difference of what appears to be an editorial fix, and how it limits access to documents. Right now Commercial Interests are overriding transparency (commercial interests include IP), in the future we would get a new broad standalone item (protection of) “IPR” which would comprise moral rights. I was wondering what the specific reason for this dramatic change was. In a Council document we get the explanaition why former Commissioner Margot Wallström introduced that to COM(2008) 229:

“Cion. explained that the provision concerning the protection of “commercial interests” and “intellectual property” had been split into two separate exceptions for the following reasons: As set out in Article 4 (4) of the recasting proposal (see below), the public interest in disclosure of information concerning emissions into the environment overrides by definition the protection of commercial interests, but not necessarily the protection of intellectual property rights. This means in practice, that there is no need for a balancing of interests, in as far as the principle laid down in Article 4 (4) second sentence applies, whereas such a balancing should be made, where disclosure could harm the protection of intellectual property rights or other interests to be protected under Article 4 (2) and 4 (3).”

In other words, they created a broader IPR exemption to transparency to make it more difficult to obtain information and found that IPR as an argument could be easier applied to deny access to documents. I wonder why Parliament under its rapporteur MEP Michael Cashman did not attempt to revert it.

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The European Union finances the ePSIplus plattform to cast light on Public Sector information in the member states and how it can be used. The now ask for your impressions how you like their web site:

Dear Colleagues,

The European Public Sector Information Platform ePSIplatform (http://www.epsiplatform.eu), funded under the European Commission’s eContentplus programme (http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/econtentplus/index_en.htm), is operational from March 2009 to February 2011.

The ePSIplatform web portal is an online resource for all of Europe. It is ‘Europe’s One-Stop Shop on Public Sector Information (PSI) Re-use’ – ‘Working to Stimulate PSI Re-use’.

At this point the European Commission (Twitter @infsoe4 – http://twitter.com/infsoe4) has initiated an online survey about the ePSIplatform web portal. The purpose of the survey is collect feedback and ideas to further develop the web portal to make it a relevant and useful resource for European PSI and open data communities.

The ePSIplatform team encourages you to take a few minutes to complete the short survey. It is your opportunity to contribute the development of the ePSIplatform web portal, in the short and long term.

* Your comments, ideas and suggestions will be welcome and appreciated.

Access the online Survey – http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=ePSIplatform

The online survey:
* Short – only takes a few minutes to complete
* Requires no personal data or registration
* All responses are anonymous

The European Commission’s PSI Web Portal (what’s new section) announcement (http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/psi/index_en.htm) about the survey states:

“1 June 2010 – The Commission published a survey http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=ePSIplatform to identify the
strengths and weaknesses of the ePSIplatform portal (http://www.epsiplatform.eu)in the light of a possible follow up to the service. The questionnaire requires neither personal data nor registration, and is completely anonymous. The survey will end on 18 June 2010. The ePSIplatform portal was launched in February 2009. Its aim is to stimulate action, report developments and monitor progress towards a stronger and more transparent environment for the growth of PSI re-use.”

Please pass this message about the survey on to your colleagues and networks.

Contributions of news and content are welcome and can be submitted to the European PSI Platform team for publishing:info@epsiplatform.eu.

Kind Regards,

Robert Davies
Co-ordinator, ePSIplatform
Follow us on Twitter @ePSIplatform (http://twitter.com/epsiplatform)

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Recently I stumbled upon a footnote in an old IDABC presentation, then had a look at the Commission registers with the reference and found a document from the Commission that was not made public yet.

C(2006)7108/1 22/12/2006 Enterprise and Industry Draft Commission Decision concerning the use of an open source software licence related to sofware developed under the IDA or IDABC programmes

A final version of the decision is not found in the register. In Europe you can file a request for public document access under the  regulation EC/1049/2001 and usually get what you ask for. IDABC is now superceded by a new EU programme for interoperability, ISA. Apparently the Commission decision was later updated when the 1.1 version of the European Union Public License was approved. The EUPL is a wise choice for software from the public sector and enterprises as it is the legally best reviewed license for European market jurisdictions, available in all EU languages, it does not contain a political agenda and is compatible to most common licenses such as the GPL.

Any further questions?

  • Was C(2006) 7108 ever formally adopted or “top killed”? Does “The European Commission approved the EUPL v.1.0 on 9 January 2007” refer to C(2006) 7108?
    It seems the document was adopted.
  • Why is a final decision not found in the register?
    Because the Commission decided so on purpose! Very fishy.

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A quote which sums my approach up:

Though social scientists care what people think it’s also important to observe what people do, especially if what they think they do turns out to be different from what they actually do.

quoted from here.

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