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The Europe Roundup: Open By Default

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, October 25 2011

  • Spain | Open By Default
    The Spanish Government has approved a Royal Decree that promotes openness and reuse of public data of the public sector, following a public consultation that happened at the end of last year.

    The Decree states that PSI (Public Sector Information) should be open for any re-use and available. Public sector bodies will have to follow such principle, unless they can proof that there are good grounds for an exception.

    The decision has been announced and explained on the blog of Proyecto Aporta, the initiative developed by the Spanish government to promote the culture of reuse of public sector information between citizens, professionals and companies:

    The text sets out the obligations of administrations and state public sector agencies to promote reuse. In particular it provides a general authorization for the reuse of information available on the GSA, unless prevented by the rules of access or specific regulations, as applicable to the protection of personal data. It also defines the responsibilities for reuse of information in each public agency in the area of ​​AGE (Administración General del Estado, Spanish for General State Administration). 

    The Royal Decree also provides a catalog normatively reusable Public Information, created under the project brings, allowing a single access point to various resources available public information, initially in the area of ​​AGE.

    The new rules also deal with other related issues such as accessibility and standard licenses.
    The final text of the Decree will be soon published - here's a summary provided by EPSI platform.

    In short, Proyecto Aporta concludes, "thanks to this Royal Decree, companies and citizens will know with certainty that, in general, public data are reusable, they can easily locate this information through the Public Information Catalog and will have clear and simple terms for reuse of information."

  • France | 'Dataviz' For Presidential Elections
    In France presidential election are due next year and data visualisations - 'dataviz' in French - are considered the next best thing when it comes to cover the election (also: the French government is launching a national data portal by the end of the year).

    Google and YouTube (in partnership with Twitter) decided to "jump in the race" by calling for submission of interactive web applications to follow the election campaigns in new ways.
    Participants can use as many data sources as they want, whether built on top of an API or a fixed database. The only requirement is to include at least one Google or Twitter dataset.


    The first prize is a five-days trip to California to visit the Googleplex, the headquarters of Google in Mountain View.
    Deadline is on December 7th.

  • EU | Austrian students report Facebook to Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner
    It has often been contended that Facebook's policies often get around European laws on privacy.
    In Vienna law student and activist Max Schrems has started a movement that questions how Facebook handles user data.
    The process is documented on the group's website "Europe Vs. Facebook":

    It is almost impossible for the user to really know what happens to his or her personal data when using Facebook. For example “removed” content is not really deleted by Facebook and it is often unclear what Facebook exactly does with our data. Users have to deal with vague and contradictory privacy policies and cannot fully estimate the consequences of using Facebook. 

    A company that constantly asks its costumers to be as transparent as possible should be equally transparent when it comes to the use of its costumers personal data. Transparency is not only a question of fairness but it is also a principle of European data protection law. It is time that the biggest social network worldwide sticks to these legal principles.

    In her weekly roundup on Global Voices Advocacy Rebecca MacKinnon reports:

    Schrems has filed 22 complaints to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC), with one of the most alarming being complaint #2. His complaint alleges that Facebook is collecting names, email addresses, telephone numbers, addresses and work information of non-Facebook users. The IDPC is investigating five complaints, including the complaint #2, the Irish Times has a list of the rest here.  As a result of these complaints, the IDPC is conducting an audit of Facebook's operations in Europe.


"A far-right political party in Switzerland has recovered its mascot goat stolen by left-wing rivals just a week before the country’s general election. The Swiss People's Party (SVP) said in a communiqué that the goat, Zottel by name, had been found safe and sound in Zurich." 

(via Ria Novosti)