Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Two new reports on OA to public info in the UK

Michael Cross, Government on the back foot over policies for pricing data, The Guardian, June 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

You can have your data, so long as it doesn't start costing us money to serve you. That, roughly, is the message of two government statements released this week.

The long-awaited reports, from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Cabinet Office, recommend that the government make more data available without strings to community and commercial ventures....

Both reports, however, avoid the central demand of Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign - that government should stop running information businesses, and instead give all data away to stimulate the knowledge economy.

The statements, published on Monday, respond to two criticisms of government information policy. Last December, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) warned that potentially unfair restrictions could be stifling the market potential of public- sector information by about 500m annually. And earlier this month, an independent review for the Cabinet Office, the Power of Information, called on the government to loosen some restrictions on the re-use of its data as part of a wide-ranging programme of measures to engage with the web 2.0 movement....

The decision to publish both responses simultaneously marks a welcome move towards joined-up thinking. Unfortunately, from the point of view of the free data movement, that thinking predominantly echoes one department's point of view: the Treasury's. Its stance is that the cost of change is a showstopper, at least in the short term....