11 June 2009

A Presumption of Openness


Public bodies should automatically release all information that does not need to stay secret, the information commissioner is expected to argue.

Richard Thomas, who is stepping down, will say all but the "crown jewels" should be released without waiting for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

He will add that the MPs' expenses row was a "coming of age" for openness.

Well, it ain't going to happen overnight, but the fact that the "o"-word is flavour of the month - even arch open data fan Sir Tim Berners-Lee is being brought in to advise - should mean that more will get done in the next few months than in the previous decades. What we're aiming for is nothing less than a presumption of openness for government.


Anonymous said...

Tim Berner's Lee is asking for input from bloggers on what needs opening up. Which is interesting.

A while ago I thought it would be nice if there were an open source program to allow Linux users to cram for the driving theory test.

I decided to contact the DSA to see what terms I could get their data on (they license it to 3rd parties for inclusion in their software). I told them I wanted to create a GPL program using their video clips, theory test example questions and the highway code.

I found that the information that you and I pay for with our taxes is both released in closed formats and not available on terms that would have allowed release under the GPL for the benefit of other people who paid for it with their taxes. I was also pointed at this page on Crown Copyright.

Beyond the very important work to open up the running of government to public scrutiny, there is a slew of crown copyright data that could have immense benefit if it were released in a way that allowed it's use in FOSS software.

I personally would love to make use of Ordnance Survey data. The amount of potentially very useful software that could be created by allowing access to this kind of data in an open manner would be immense.

Glyn Moody said...

Agreed - interesting story about DSA: no surprise, though....