---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Christian Villum<[hidden email]>
Date: 2013/6/18 Subject: [okfn-discuss] Fwd: G8 Highlights Open Data as Crucial for Governance and Growth To: Open Knowledge Foundation discussion list <[hidden email]>
(apologies for any cross-posting)
We've just released this on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog:
G8 Highlights Open Data as Crucial for Governance and Growth
Today’s release of an Open Data Charter by the G8 is testimony to the growing importance of open data worldwide. The Charter recognizes the central role open data can play in improving government and governance and in stimulating growth through innovation in data-driven products and services. It endorses the principle of “open by default” — also supported in President Obama’s recent Executive Order on open data — and makes clear that open data must be open to all and usable by both machines and humans (as per the Open Definition).
As, Rufus Pollock, Founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation said: “We are delighted to see such high-level endorsement of the key principles of open data and transparency which the Open Knowledge Foundation, together with many others, have been campaigning for over a period of many years. At the same time, there is still much for the G8, and other countries, to do.”
The early results from Open Data Census reported last week show that, even for a small number of core datasets, G8 countries in many cases have a long way to go in opening up essential data. It is therefore good to see that the Charter recognizes a list of “high value datasets” which should be prioritized for release, though it is disappointing that there are no explicit commitments to release the types of data mentioned (and as the Census results showed there is much to be done in this area).
Moreover, as the Charter acknowledges with its 2nd principle on quality and quantity, it’s not just about open data but about quality data — the value of open data will be much diminished if the data turns out to be missing crucial information. In this area much of the devil is in the detail and it will take some detailed follow-up work to make sure this principle turns into practice.
As a concrete example of the quality point, in our work with open data on government finances in the OpenSpending project we’ve often been hampered by the lack of crucial identifiers (for example, for companies or departments), or by data that does not have the granularity to enable it to be used to answer key questions (such as how much was spent on project X), or by simple inaccuracy and unreliability.
Martin Tisne of the Omidyar Network said: “We need to benchmark what excellence means in open data and set a standard so that government reformers are empowered and civil society can engage and monitor. The Open Data Charter does this and offers its principles for consideration to other countries and initiatives. Open data is the most popular commitment out of hundreds put forward by close to 60 countries part of the Open Government Partnership. The Charter will be a great tool for these countries to develop ambitious and meaningful open data initiatives.”
Finally, Governments will have to think hard about how to turn transparency into accountability. This may involve both developing skills and innovations, as mentioned in the Charter, but also thought about the kinds of incentives, and changes in governance, that will make transparency actionable.
Open Data Charter
We will be updating this with key extracts from the charter as we analyze it.
… Governments have a special responsibility to make proper rules and promote good governance. Fair taxes, increased transparency and open trade are vital drivers of this. We will make a real difference by doing the following:
2. Countries should change rules that let companies shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes, and multinationals should report to tax authorities what tax they pay where.
3. Companies should know who really owns them and tax collectors and law enforcers should be able to obtain this information easily.
5. Extractive companies should report payments to all governments – and governments should publish income from such companies.
7. Land transactions should be transparent, respecting the property rights of local communities.
10. Governments should publish information on laws, budgets, spending, national statistics, elections and government contracts in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can hold them to account. [emphasis added]