G8 Leaders Sign Open Data Charter

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

Francis Maude says agreement by G8 nations marks a major milestone in unlocking government information

The G8 leaders have signed an Open Data Charter at their summit in Northern Ireland, and the UK government has hailed it as “a huge step forward” in opening up the world’s information.

By signing the charter, the leaders of the world’s top eight nations agreed to five core principles, the first of which is to move towards an “open data by default” approach, where public sector data is made public unless there is a good reason why not. The participating G8 nations agreed tol “establish an expectation that all government data be published openly by default”.

This is a big step for those G8 nations who are typically seen as reserved or repressive nations, including Russia and Japan.

MaudeThe UK government, however, is already aggressively opening up public sector data, as has the European Commission, as they believe it will unlock billions of pounds (or euros) to revive the lacklustre economy.

Open Data Charter

The main aim is to allow tech developers to use the data for useful applications, which will make them money and give citizens more access to important information.

“The G8 Open Data Charter marks another milestone. The signatories have agreed a set of principles for making data as widely accessible as possible and in a form useable by all,” said minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude.

“This is a huge step forward and will be a particular boost for the innovators and entrepreneurs who can use open data to create products and businesses that will fuel growth in our economies.”

Amongst other commitments in the charter, the governments said they would “release high-quality open data that are timely, comprehensive and accurate”, agreeing information should be “usable by all”.

The Open Data Charter came after the Cabinet Office responded to the Shakespeare Report on its open data strategy last week.

The government said it would be releasing more troves of information, including details on the operations of charities. The hope is that apps will emerge that will help people make more informed decisions on what charities to back.

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