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Brits Reexamine Open Data Policies

BY Raphael Majma | Wednesday, March 21 2012

The UK government has commissioned an independent Data Strategy Board to guide and accelerate future government data releases.

The board is tasked with not only determining what data should be released, but will work with government organizations to determine what data releases will lead to economic growth.

One third of the group will come from out of the government and the board is being given £7 million (or $11.1 million) to fund its work.

However, the UK government is not convinced of the benefits of freely available government data. The board is tasked with determining how freely released data leads to “economic growth and social benefit.”

“The new structure for Open Data will ensure a more inclusive discussion, including private sector data users, on future data releases, how they should be paid for and which should be available free of charge,” said Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.

“The idea the public sector is being given £7m to buy data back from itself is insane and is basically a giant fig leaf to the fact the government will not reform the agencies that have the data,” said Jonathan Raper, founder of Placr, to ComputerWeekly. “I would be surprised if any open data entrepreneurs would be willing to take part in this.”

“It’s a bureaucratic tangle and could result in losing the huge gains available for accountability and economic growth, which would be quite appalling,” said Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group.

This reasoning seems to run contrary to the previous launch of Data.gov.uk, which quickly became the most comprehensive government portal on the web. Currently, the portal does not charge a fee for accessing and working on the available datasets.