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Her Majesty's Government Wants to Monetize Open Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 20 2013

London skyline via Wikipedia

A new paper from the chair of the U.K. government's Open Strategy Board outlines the best practices for the government's open data policies. The government-commissioned Shakespeare Review – after author Stephan Shakespeare – looks into ways to monetize open data, and recommends an all-encompassing National Data Strategy.

According to Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov and chair of the Open Strategy Board, the U.K. leads the world in making government data public. However, his report cautions the government against releasing data willy-nilly if they want to capitalize on the open data market (which the report finds could generate £2 billion ($3 billion) in the short term and £6 – 7 billion ($9 – 10.6 billion) later on. Many of his suggestions are aimed at simply streamlining the open data: designating leadership for the initiative, ensuring that what is said will be done is done, and releasing rough data quickly and refined and verified data in a second, higher quality data set.

The Open Rights Group took issue with some of Shakespeare's provisions for privacy and transparency. They found the “exclusive focus on economic growth, against transparency and accountability” troubling.

They also found the suggested method of "anonymisation" insufficient to protecting online privacy, and wished it was higher up on the list of Shakespeare's concerns: “It is slightly disappointing that citizens' privacy remains being perceived a hurdle, instrumentally required in order to build trust rather than as a fundamental right.”

The Review is out of Shakespeare's hands now. Matthew Hancock, Business Minister and sponsor of the Data Strategy Board, and Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, responded to the report with cautious optimism, calling the review “excellent” and “important;” they “warmly welcome” the suggestions and are now considering them carefully.

The government officials want to be positive about the report they themselves commissioned, but they aren't making any promises.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.