EU Heralds Open Data Boom After Parliament Votes For New Rules

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Open data rules set to be enshrined in law by 2015

The European Parliament has voted to usher in new rules for public sector data, designed to ensure that non-personal information hoarded by governments can be accessed cheaply and used to make new applications.

The European Commission is delighted with the deal, claiming the legislation would give the beleaguered European economy a boost of up to €40 billion (£34bn).

Open data boost

EU, European Union © SmileStudio Shutterstock 2012Ivailo Kalfin, who was responsible for steering the legislation through Parliament, said the rules should guarantee all public data, excluding anything that would amount to personal information, from member states is made available on the Internet.

Data should be presented in an open format that can be easily re-used, according to Kalfin. Companies will be able to get at the data already available to public bodies either for free or for a marginal cost.

“A software company could develop public transport schedules in real time, mapping services, or databases of commercial activity and infrastructure planning in the region, just by accessing the existing public data,” Kalfin added.

Neelie Kroes,  EU Digital Agenda vice president, said “the boost from easier access is of the order tens of billions of euros”.

“In short, this is an amazing raw material for innovation; we’re basically sitting on a goldmine,” she added.

“Today’s agreement from the European Parliament sets the legislation in stone – and by 2015 it should have full effect in every country of the EU. But there’s no reason why public authorities can’t start anticipating this change already, and adapt today to a more open culture.”

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