Support Us

You are browsing the archive for Featured.

New Local Groups in Cameroon, Guernsey, Kenya, Bermuda and New Zealand!

Christian Villum - July 11, 2014 in Featured, OKF Cameroon, OKF Guernsey, OKF Kenya, OKF New Zealand, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

5891389188_023dc72cb9_b

Once again we can proudly announce the establishment of a new round of Open Knowledge Local Groups, headed by community leaders around the world. This time we welcome Cameroon, Guernsey, Kenya, Bermuda and New Zealand to the family of Local Groups, which brings the global Open Knowledge community tally beyond the 50+ countries mark. In this blog post we would like to introduce the people heading these groups and invite everyone to join the community in these countries.

Cameroon

In Cameroon, the incubating Local Group is headed in unison by Agnes Ebo’o and Jean Brice Tetka. Agnes Ebo’o is the founder of the Citizens Governance Initiatives in Cameroon, a nonprofit association that promotes accountability and citizens’ participation in governance. A pioneer in the promotion of freedom of information and open government in Cameroon, Agnes has been involved in the creation of several regional initiatives that promote open government and the rule of law in Africa. These include the Academy for Constitutional Law and Justice in Africa and the Africa Freedom of Information Centre; a Pan-African NGO and resource centre that promotes the right of access to information across Africa. Agnes is also the Co-founder of the Gulf of Guinea Citizens Network, a network of advocates for participatory, transparent and accountable management of the natural resources in the Gulf of Guinea region of Africa. A lawyer by training, Agnes holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Poitiers, France, and an LLM from the University of Wales Cardiff, UK.

Jean joined Transparency International in February 2014 as Data and Technology Coordinator for the People Engagement Programme working on technological solutions to anti-corruption, data analysis and visualisation. He has a Bachelors degree in Management ICT Studies from the African Institute of Programming and his previous experiences includes three years as a project manager with an anti-corruption organisation, two years as IT manager for a private company and volunteering for several NGOs.

Kenya

Ahmed Maawy is a Shaper with the Global Shapers Community (which is an Initiative of the World Economic Forum) and an Executive Direcotor at The Mombasa Tech Community (CBO). He is a technology expert working with D8A and Appfrica labs, and a Technology Lead at Abayima. Ahmed is also one of the pioneers in the groundbreaking institution that aims to create a world without boundaries, The Amani Institute‘s Post Graduate certificate in Social Innovation Management. Ahmed has spent more than 10 years developing web, mobile, and enterprise software as well as functioning as a project manager for a number of software products and projects. He has worked with corporations and non profits alike, as well as media agencies such as Al Jazeera New Media (on 3 important curation projects covering Somalia, Libya and Gaza) as well as Internews Europe. He has also worked for Ushahidi as a Software Engineer for SwiftRiver, Datadyne as Product Manager for EpiSurveyor (now MagPi), and with Kenya Airways for their Online Marketing strategy, Bookings and Reservations engines, and overall web strategy, to name a few.

Bermuda

Heading up the Open Knowledge efforts in Bermuda by setting up a new Local Group are Andrew Simons and Louis Galipeau. Andrew is Bermudian, born and raised. He attended Stanford University as a Bermuda Government Scholar, and graduated with a BSc in computer science and an MSc in chemical engineering. Before moving home to Bermuda, he worked in the Boston area at EMC, a global technology company. He now works as a catastrophe modeler in the insurance industry. In 2013, Andrew co-founded Bermuda.io, a free online repository of Bermuda public data running on CKAN.

Louis is Canadian and has made Bermuda his home. A self-taught technophile with a diverse background, he has a drive towards the use of new media and technology in art, business, and community efforts. He is involved locally as a core member of TEDxBermuda and works at a law firm as the senior lead applications architect. In 2013, Louis also co-founded Bermuda.io with Andrew.

New Zealand

The Local Group in New Zealand is being booted by Rowan Crawford, a software developer who originally trained as a pharmacist. He maintains New Zealand’s Freedom of Information requests site, fyi.org.nz, and currently focuses on connecting the public to representatives via askaway.org.nz and bringing Code for America-style fellowships to New Zealand.

Guernsey

In Guernsey, Philip Smith is the initiator of the new Local Group. He is a project and programme manager heading CBO Projects, has a background with charity This Is Epic and is one of the founders of The Dandelion Project, a community-driven initiative aiming to create a better place for people by bringing together citizens to share their knowledge and skills. Dandelion has, among other, started a small number of community led projects that involve Guernsey moving forward with open data, for example a bus app for local bus services and an open data portal that will hopefully drive open access to valuable data in Guernsey.

We encourage everyone to get in touch with these new Local Groups – to join, connect and collaborate! Contact information can be found via our global network page.

Photo by Volker Agüeras Gäng, CC-BY.

OKFestival Keynote Spotlight: Beatriz Busaniche

Katelyn Rogers - June 25, 2014 in Events, Featured

The Open Knowledge Festival team is thrilled to announce that Beatriz Busaniche will be joining us as a keynote speaker in Berlin this year. Beatriz Busaniche is a free software and culture expert and advocate, a board member of the Vía Libre Foundation in Argentina, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires, a core team member at Creative Commons Argentina and a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina

     

Beatriz Busaniche’s “Freedom has Never Been Cheap – A Call to Action for Freedom and the Public Domain” will draw on the wealth of experience she has in fighting to keep the internet open and free. This talk will do more than simply explain how the public domain is at risk; Beatriz will call on all OKFestival participants to lead the way for the entire global open knowledge community.

Because ‘free’ as in ‘freedom’ has never come cheap, she will ask that we go beyond passive learning by joining forces and putting ourselves on the front line in the fight for a free public domain. To help us take those first steps, Beatriz will offer examples of and learnings from her own experiences as an activist fighting for the freedom of the public domain and, in doing so, her keynote will aim to truly address and impact the challenges which we are currently facing in the intellectual property debate.

Here is a sneak peak (in Spanish) of Beatriz speaking at TEDxCordoba, and as you may be able to see, we have a lot to look forward to!

Beatriz Busaniche’s Keynote will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Creative Commons Board member and href=”https://webwewant.org/”>Wed We Want, Renata Avila. We will open up the discussion to questions from the audience as we begin to develop long term strategies for engaging the entire open knowledge movement in the defence of the public domain!

There are still tickets left, join Beatriz Busaniche and hundreds of other members of the global open knowledge community at OKFestival from July 15th to July 17th to share experiences, learn from peers and collectively build a stronger open knowledge movement. Don’t miss out, buy your OKFestival tickets today.

Capture your events

Heather Leson - June 24, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Featured, OKFest, OKFestival

We’re on a skillshare craze leading up to OKFestival. A few weeks ago we hosted a session all about how to create great videos with our guest Sam Muirhead. This week we are inviting you to join a Photography Skillshare. Events is one of the top ways that you are involved in Open Knowledge. So, while we might be focused on OKFest, the skills transcend storytelling any event.

Photography Skillshare

Join us on Thursday, June 26, 2014 for a Photography Skillshare. The team and community will share best practices in photos as well as

  • Times: Thursday, June 26, 2014 @ 9:30 EDT/ 13:30 UTC/ 14:30 BST/15:30 CEST
  • To join

We will record it to share back in case your timezone or work schedule is different.

Video Skillshare

Does your video or photos look like this? While it is super artistic, it might not show your story in the best context. While the camera for this session was not playing nice, the content is full of all kinds of tips and resources to make your video shine. Thanks to Sam Muirhead of Camera Libre for donating his time. See the G+ hangout notes for a stack of resources to help your video learning.

Note: Community Sessions are taking a break for the summer. Stay tuned for more sessions in the future.

OKFestival Keynote Spotlight: Neelie Kroes

Katelyn Rogers - June 17, 2014 in Events, Featured

We are pleased to announce that Neelie Kroes, the Vice President of the European Commission and a staunch supporter of open data, open government and open access, will join us in Berlin this year as a keynote speaker.

Neelie Kroes is responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, one of seven flagship initiatives of Europe 2020, the European Union’s strategy for inclusive and sustainable growth. The Digital Agenda for Europe recognises that the digital economy is growing seven times faster than the rest of the economy and lays out seven priority areas that must be addressed in order to ensure that European citizens are truly able to take advantage of and receive the full benefits of digital technologies.

Opening up public sector information is a key part of the Digital Agenda for Europe and progress on open data in Europe has benefited significantly from the strong and unwavering support from Neelie Kroes. In a recent interview with OpenSource.com, Mrs. Kroes stated,

“Data is at the heart of the knowledge economy. All our decision-making is becoming ever more determined by data as a basis, not only inside companies, but also in our capacity as ordinary citizens. The products of the future are information-based products that will make our lives easier. Opening up data for use and reuse has therefore an enormous potential to change the way we live and make choices. A better use of data will thus contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the creation of jobs and the promotion of web-entrepreneurship and start-ups throughout the EU.”

We couldn’t agree more. We are honoured that Mrs. Kroes will take part in this year’s Open Knowledge Festival and look forward to engaging her in a fruitful discussion about how we can better harness the power and potential of open data for the benefit of society.

There are still tickets left, join Neelie Kroes and hundreds of other members of the global open knowledge community to share experiences, learn from peers and collectively build a stronger open knowledge movement. Don’t miss out, buy your OKFestival tickets today.

The OKFestival keynote excitement begins!

Megan McGrattan - June 16, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFestival, Uncategorized

This is a cross-post from the OKFestival blog, see the original here

The time is now. The time is today!

If you haven’t already, it’s time to buy your tickets because today, we announce the names of our four amazing keynote speakers!

This year, we have the pleasure of welcoming this stellar line-up of activists, experts, founders, leaders and visionaries who have each impacted the world as we know it in significant ways; pushing forward reform, demanding accountability, increasing transparency and creating new points of contact between governments and their people – to name but a few of their achievements!

We’re delighted to be able to confirm that these incredible speakers will be opening both full days of the festival and we hope that their ideas and stories will inspire you to think harder, make better and connect more during the discussions and activities which will follow later each day.

We’ll be letting you know more about each of our Keynote’s talks throughout this week, with a daily drop including their bios, their keynote details and some stellar prep material you can watch to get you excited about how incredible it will be to see this lot live!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, later this week we’ll let you in on an extra special addition to this line-up, so stay tuned to Twitter for hints on who it might be and tuned to our site for in-the-moment updates! Don’t miss out, OKFestival is the best place to be Open this summer!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 12.18.41

Neelie Kroes Vice President & EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda, European Commission

Neelie Kroes is currently Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. Since 2004, she has worked as one of the 27 European Commissioners aiming to maintain a peaceful and prosperous Europe. From 2004 to 2009, she was Competition Commissioner, responsible for ensuring a level playing field for business in Europe. In 2010, she became Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. This portfolio includes ensuring trust and security for the Internet and new technologies; building world-class European research and innovation in this sector; and above all getting every European Digital, with access to fast broadband, so Europe can make the most out of the Internet to support a strong economy and society.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.50.23

Patrick Alley Founder of Global Witness and a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council for Conflict prevention.

Patrick Alley is a director of Global Witness and co-founded the organisation in 1993. He took part in Global Witness’ first investigations into the Thai-Khmer Rouge timber trade in 1995, and since then has taken part in over fifty field investigations in South East Asia, Africa and Europe, and in subsequent advocacy activities. Patrick has focused on natural resource governance issues in resource-rich countries, including post-conflict, including Cambodia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe, and focuses on the thematic issue of Conflict Resources, and on forest and land issues, especially challenging industrial scale logging and land grabbing in the tropics. Patrick is involved in the strategic leadership of Global Witness, and is a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council for Conflict prevention.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.39.35

Eric Hysen Director of Google’s elections and civic engagement products and programs, creator of tools for Harvard Institute of Politics designed to drive youth voter turnout through social media.

Eric manages Google’s elections and civic engagement products and programs. His team has launched tools that have helped hundreds of millions of people vote and engage in the political process in over 25 countries, including India, Kenya, Germany, Australia, the US, Mexico, and Egypt. Eric’s team recently launched the Google Civic Information API to make it easier for developers to build useful new civic apps. Prior to joining Google in 2009, Eric built tools to drive youth voter turnout through social media at the Harvard Institute of Politics. Eric holds a BA with honors in Computer Science from Harvard College, and has published research on using advanced crowdsourcing techniques to solve complex problems.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 12.21.39

Beatriz Busaniche Founder of Wikimedia Argentina and key member of Argentina’s Fundacion Via Libre

Beatriz Busaniche is a member of the Fundacion Via Libre and is also a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina, local chapter of Wikimedia Foundation. She has a Mass Communication Degree from National University of Rosario, and is currently a part time professor at Social Sciences Faculty, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She’s preparing her Master Degree on Intellectual Property at FLACSO Argentina.

Join us!

The Open Knowledge Festival 2014 invites you to come and learn from these experts; to hear their thoughts, share their ideas and discuss the progress that we can make towards a more Open world when we work together. Come and join the conversation at OKFestival 2014, knowing that when you leave, it will be with more inspiration, more connections and more conviction than you might have imagined possible.

See you next month!

Brazil’s Development Bank – The Elephant in the Stadium

Guest - June 13, 2014 in Campaigning, Featured, Stop Secret Contracts

This is a guest blog post by Andrew Simms analyst and campaigner at our StopSecretContracts.org coalition partner Global Witness. If you believe public contracts should be open contracts, sign our petition and let world leaders know. This article first appeared on Global Witness’s website.


WorldCup


Symbolism doesn’t get much better than this – thousands of homeless Brazilians set up camp outside São Paolo’s stadium as it prepares for the opening game of the most expensive World Cup ever.

Brazil’s World Cup stadiums have become monuments to broken promises – largely publicly-funded (contrary to government assurances), colossally expensive (around four times over-budget on average, with allegations of overpricing abounding), and some fated to become post-Cup white elephants because their host cities can’t sustain them.

A who’s who of World Cup infrastructure sheds light on a paradox in Brazil’s development model. A major investor in its stadiums was the biggest bank most people haven’t heard of – the country’s national development bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES)), a majority public-funded bank whose mandate involves ‘promoting socio-environmental sustainability and reducing inequalities.’

These goals sit uncomfortably alongside the World Cup’s potential legacy.

Take the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, for example, built by Brazil’s second largest construction company, Andrade Gutierrez (which Associated Press says increased its political donations 500-fold in Brazil’s most recent elections). The cost of building Beira Rio went more than 150% over budget, and 80% of total costs were carried by the BNDES.

Andrade Gutierrez also built Brasilia’s Mane Garrincha stadium, along with engineering firm Via Engenharia. A seat in that stadium cost three times what an average stadium seat cost in South Africa and Germany for the last two World Cups.

The BNDES is a major player in Brazil and parts of Latin America and Africa, with a bigger investment portfolio even than the World Bank’s. In 2012 around a quarter of the bank’s funds came from Brazil’s Worker’s Assistance Fund and just over half from the National Treasury. As much as 70 percent of the bank’s expenditure meanwhile goes to ‘big companies’ whose gross annual revenue exceeds US$ 135 million.

Global Witness has three major concerns about the BNDES:

  1. Choice of investment partners

Senior officials from six World Cup contractors – Construcap, Galvão, Mendes Júnior, OAS, Odebrecht and Via Engenharia – are currently on trial for alleged illicit enrichment through the construction of key infrastructure at ten Brazilian airports between 2003 and 2006 – infrastructure that will bring millions of visitors to World Cup venues. Dozens of representatives stand accused of being part of a criminal association with officials at Infraero, a government-owned company that operates Brazil’s key airports.

Together they are charged with illicit enrichment that Brazil’s Public Attorney claims resulted in over US$ 440 million in public money being diverted. Investigators say that price inflation occurred on such a scale that at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas Airport alone the footbridges used by passengers to board planes were overpriced by 190%, amounting to US$ 2.6 million lost to Brazilian taxpayers.

This case first came to court in 2011. Three years later there have been no convictions. The accused deny the charges.

  1. Lack of transparency

While some ad hoc data is available on the volumes of money that BNDES invests in certain companies, the bank’s transparency tends to end there.

BNDES does not publish details of its loans to private entities inside or outside Brazil, claiming exemption to freedom of information requests on the basis of banking secrecy.

In the absence of publicly available information on BNDES’ rationale for financing certain companies over others, or the objectives or results of the projects it is funding, citizens are unable to scrutinise what their taxes are spent on.

BNDES investments in public institutions continue to be audited by public officials, but those in companies are not. This seems inconsistent considering that the BNDES is a federal public company under the supervision of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade.

  1. Social and environmental footprint

The BNDES lacks effective environmental and social safeguards to guide its investment choices or monitor their impact. This is evidenced by the fact that the bank is the majority funder of an infrastructure boom in the Amazon basin region, home to the world’s largest rainforest. Globally we are losing forests at a rate of fifty football pitches a minute.

One particularly controversial BNDES-backed project is the Belo Monte Dam, being built on one of the Amazon’s major tributaries. It is anticipated that the dam will result in the destruction of an area of over 1,500 square kilometres of rainforest, the forced displacement of between 20,000 and 40,000 people, and untold impacts on local livelihoods and eco-systems.

The economic viability of the dam has also been called into question, with industry analysts claiming that due to the challenges of building a project of this size in the Amazon total costs could easily exceed government predictions by US$ 5 billion.

The camp for homeless families outside São Paolo’s stadium has been nicknamed ‘The People’s Cup’ and is a stark reminder to World Cup visitors that Brazil’s booming economy remains elusive in much of the country.

Brazil’s month-long football revelries will likely distract from the real winners and losers of the 2014 World Cup, but the tournament offers critical insights into Brazil’s development trajectory – embodied in a bank that facilitates the cosy relationship between business and politics, lacks accountability back to its tax-payer donors, and finances projects that may undermine rather than further sustainable development.

 

Community Sessions: Video Skillshare and Open Education

Heather Leson - June 9, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFestival, Open Data, Open Education, Technical

Happy June! We have a few Community Sessions to announce. OKFestival is almost a month away. Videos are key for storytelling, so we are hosting a Video Skillshare to help us all learn. The Open Education Working Group will join us to talk about why open data matters in education. Join us for these two community sessions.

Take a Video: Preparing for OKFestival

cameras in baskets
Storytelling is key to building Open. Join Sam Muirhead of Cameralibre and the Open Knowledge team to learn some tips and tricks about video. We are preparing for OkFest and hope this skillshare helps everyone.

  • Date:Thursday, June 12, 2014
  • Time: 9:30 EDT/13:30 UTC/14:30 BST/15:30 CST
  • Our guest is Sam Muirhead.
  • Duration: 1 hour (This will be recorded)
  • Register

We’ll cover some topics like: What you need to think about before and during shooting to make sure footage is high quality and relevant, Hard-to-fix but easy-to-avoid mistakes, Tips and tricks for editing a simple interview or event video and some VERY basic technical guidelines eg. what settings to use for recording, exporting, etc.

Sam was kind enough to share some resources:

Why Open Data matters to Education

Open Education is a very active global community. Join Marieke and Octavio to learn more about why open data matters to education. Also, learn about the many facets of open education and how to get involved.

This session builds on the Make it Matter Workshop all about using Open methods in Education. See all previous Making it Matter workshopvideos. We’ll share all about open data in education, learn about the Open Education Working group and hear about work in Brazil and the UK.

About Open Education

  • Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 EDT / 12:00 UTC / 13:00 BST/14:00 CEST
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Register

If you have a ideas for upcoming sessions, please ping heather DOT leson AT okfn DOT org.

(Photo by Heather Leson, Venice Biennale. Art by Magdalena Campos-Pons)

All-star wrap-up of a month of Open Knowledge events all around the world – April 2014

Beatrice Martini - May 23, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Featured, Meetups, OKF France, OKF Greece, OKF Italy, OKF Switzerland, OKFN France, Open Access, Open Data, Open Data Index, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

Last month we asked the Open knowledge community to start sharing more details about the events we all run, to discover how many people are rocking Open Knowledge events all around the world! The community has been great at responding the call and now we’re glad to feature some of the April events we got reports (and pictures and videos!) from.

The winners of the Apps4Greece award have been announced! Check out the winning apps, aiming to improve the functionality of cities, businesses, services and develop entrepreneurship and innovation.

Organised by Open Knowledge France after the Paris Open Government Conference (April 24-25) during which France announced it’s joining the Open Government Partnership – and gathering more the 50 people! Featuring Open Knowledge founder’s Rufus Pollock and discussions about the state of Open Data in France, Open Data Index, French version of School of Data Ecole des Données (congratulations!) and more.

  • Open Access Days in Egypt (Cairo, Egypt – April 27-28) Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 11.07.36 AM Open Knowledge Egypt, among many other organizations and researchers, participated in the 2-day event driven by the aim to promote open access to researchers in Egypt and the Middle East, and plant a seed for future initiatives.

We’re so looking forward to hearing everything about your upcoming events! Some juicy ones in the pipeline:

So, what you’re waiting for? It’s time to share your stories for next months’ global roundup! Please submit your blogposts about your May events to the Community Tumblr (details about how/where here) by June 4 in order to be featured in our all-star monthly wrap-up to be published in June on the main Open Knowledge blog and channels! Thank you! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

The “right to be forgotten” – a threat to Transparency and Open Data?

Rufus Pollock - May 22, 2014 in Featured, Ideas and musings, Privacy

A recent European Court Justice (ECJ) ruling may affect how privacy, transparency, and open data interact and has a direct relation with growing discussion about the “right to be forgotten”. Roughly summarized the ruling finds that organisations which publish information may be obliged to “take down” and remove information when an individual requests that removal even when the information is true and is a matter of “public record”.

This is potentially a significant change, adding to the work and responsibilities not just of big corporations like Google, but also to the creators of open databases big and small. The so-called “right to be forgotten” undoubtedly encapsulates a justified fear that lots of us have about our loss of personal privacy. However, this decision also appears to have the potential for significant (unintended) negative consequences for the publication and availability of key public interest information – the kind of information that is central to government and corporate accountability.

More discussion on this and related topics in area of open data and privacy in the Personal Data, Privacy and Open Data working group

Forgotten

The Ruling and What it Means

The core of the case was the request by a citizen to have web pages about him dating from 1998 removed from online newspaper archives of La Vanguardia, and significantly, for the Google Search results linking to that article also to be removed.

Now the pages in question contained information that one would normally consider to be of reasonable “public record”, specifically as summarized by the ECJ they “contained an announcement for a real-estate auction organised following attachment proceedings for the recovery of social security debts owed [by the citizen]“.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) who handled this in the first instance made what seemed a somewhat surprising ruling in that:

  • They rejected the complaint against La Vanguardia, taking the view that the information in question had been lawfully published by it.
  • But they upheld the complaint against Google and “requested those two companies [Google Spain and Google Inc] to take the necessary measures to withdraw the data from their index and to render access to the data impossible in the future.”

The ECJ (which opines on law not facts) essentially upheld the legal logic of AEPD’s decision, stating:

Court holds that the operator [e.g. Google] is, in certain circumstances, obliged to remove links to web pages that are published by third parties and contain information relating to a person from the list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of that person’s name. The Court makes it clear that such an obligation may also exist in a case where that name or information is not erased beforehand or simultaneously from those web pages, and even, as the case may be, when its publication in itself on those pages is lawful.

At first glance, this decision has some rather substantial implications, for example:

  • It imposes potentially very substantial obligations on those who collect and curate “public” (open) data and information. For example, to respond to requests to remove information (and to continue to track this going forward to ensure continuing compliance).
  • It appears to entitle individuals to request the take-down of information with a strong “public-interest” component. For example, imagine an online database providing information on corporate entities which may list the (true) fact that someone was a director of a company convicted of fraud. Would this ruling allow the director to request their removal?

What is especially noteworthy is that the decision appears to imply that even if the data comes from an official source (and is correct) a downstream collector or aggregator of that information may be required to remove it (and even where the original source does not have to remove the information).

We should, of course, remember that any holder of information (whether an original source or an aggregator) has legal (and moral) obligations to remove content in a variety of circumstances. Most obviously, there is an obligation to remove if something is false or some private information has been mistakenly published. This already has implications for transparency and open data projects.

For example, in the OpenSpending project information is collected from official sources about government finances including (in the UK) details of individual spending transactions. It is possible that (by accident) the description of a published transaction could provide sensitive information about a person (for example, it could be a payment to social services regarding an abused child where the child’s name is listed). In such circumstances both the original source (the government data) and OpenSpending would have a responsibility to redact the personal information as quickly as possible.

However, the case discussed here concerned what one would normally consider “public-interest” information. Traditionally, society has accepted that transparency concerns trump privacy in a variety of public interest areas: for example, one should be able to find who are the directors of limited liability companies, or know the name of one’s elected representatives, or know who it is who was convicted of a crime (though we note that some countries have systems whereby an offender’s conviction is, after some period, expunged from the record).

This ruling appears seriously to undermine this either in theory or in fact.

In particular, whilst a company like Google may dislike this ruling they have the resources ultimately to comply (in fact it may be good for them as it will increase the barriers to entry!). But for open data projects this ruling creates substantial issues – for example, it now seems possible that open projects like Wikipedia, Poderopedia, OpenCorporates or even OpenSpending will now have to deal with requests to remove information on the basis of infringing on personal data protection even though the information collected only derives from material published elsewhere and has a clear public interest component.

The everlasting memory of the internet, and the control of our personal data by corporations like Facebook and Google, undoubtedly present huge challenges to our rights to privacy and our very conception of the public/private divide. But we mustn’t let our justified concerns about ancient Facebook photos prejudicing our job prospects lead to knee-jerk reactions that will harm transparency and undermine the potential of open data.

More discussion on this and related topics in area of open data and privacy in the Personal Data, Privacy and Open Data working group

Excerpted Summary from the ECJ Summary

Excerpted from the ECJ Summary:

In 2010 Mario Costeja González, a Spanish national, lodged with the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (Spanish Data Protection Agency, the AEPD) a complaint against La Vanguardia Ediciones SL (the publisher of a daily newspaper with a large circulation in Spain, in particular in Catalonia) and against Google Spain and Google Inc. Mr Costeja González contended that, when an internet user entered his name in the search engine of the Google group (‘Google Search’), the list of results would display links to two pages of La Vanguardia’s newspaper, of January and March 1998. Those pages in particular contained an announcement for a real-estate auction organised following attachment proceedings for the recovery of social security debts owed by Mr Costeja González.

With that complaint, Mr Costeja González requested, first, that La Vanguardia be required either to remove or alter the pages in question (so that the personal data relating to him no longer appeared) or to use certain tools made available by search engines in order to protect the data. Second, he requested that Google Spain or Google Inc. be required to remove or conceal the personal data relating to him so that the data no longer appeared in the search results and in the links to La Vanguardia. In this context, Mr Costeja González stated that the attachment proceedings concerning him had been fully resolved for a number of years and that reference to them was now entirely irrelevant.

The AEPD rejected the complaint against La Vanguardia, taking the view that the information in question had been lawfully published by it. On the other hand, the complaint was upheld as regards Google Spain and Google Inc. The AEPD requested those two companies to take the necessary measures to withdraw the data from their index and to render access to the data impossible in the future. Google Spain and Google Inc. brought two actions before the Audiencia Nacional (National High Court, Spain), claiming that the AEPD’s decision should be annulled. It is in this context that the Spanish court referred a series of questions to the Court of Justice.

[The ECJ then summarizes its interpretation. Basically Google can be treated as a data controller and ...]

… the Court holds that the operator is, in certain circumstances, obliged to remove links to web pages that are published by third parties and contain information relating to a person from the list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of that person’s name. The Court makes it clear that such an obligation may also exist in a case where that name or information is not erased beforehand or simultaneously from those web pages, and even, as the case may be, when its publication in itself on those pages is lawful.

Finally, in response to the question whether the directive enables the data subject to request that links to web pages be removed from such a list of results on the grounds that he wishes the information appearing on those pages relating to him personally to be ‘forgotten’ after a certain time, the Court holds that, if it is found, following a request by the data subject, that the inclusion of those links in the list is, at this point in time, incompatible with the directive, the links and information in the list of results must be erased.

Image: Forgotten by Stephen Nicholas, CC-BY-NC-SA

Announcing our newest round of Local Groups

Christian Villum - May 21, 2014 in Featured, OKF El Salvador, OKF Hungary, OKF Iran, OKF Malta, OKF Paraguay, OKF Philippines, OKF Romania, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

Open Knowledge community meetup

It is with great excitement that we can announce the establishment of a new round of Open Knowledge Local Groups, headed by new Ambassadors around the world. This time we welcome El Salvador, Hungary, Iran, Malta, Paraguay, Philippines and Romania to the family of Local Groups, which now stretch over 45 countries worldwide. In this blog post we would like to introduce the people heading these groups and invite everyone to join the community in these countries.

Hungary

Zoltan Varju, our new Ambassador in Hungary, is a computational linguist at Precognox, a company specializing in semantic search and text mining. He is one of the initiators of opendata.hu, a community driven open data hub in Hungary. Zoltan is also the organizer of the Hungarian Natural Language Processing Meetup and the co-organizer of the inkLink data journalism conference. Lastly, he blogs at Kereső Világ, a blog dedicated to (enterprise) search, language technology and text mining.

Romania

Silviu Vert is currently pursuing his PhD studies at the Politehnica University in Timisoara, exploring the potential of linked and open data in augmented reality scenarios. In 2013, he and several friends founded the Smart City community, which engages with the local government authorities, tech communities, companies, universities and non-governmental organizations to open up the public data of the city and to build upon it useful services for the citizens. Silviu volunteers in charitable and community service activities as a member of the Lions Clubs network. He was the president of Romania’s National Association of Leo Clubs in 2012-2013 and is a founding member of a new Lions Club in his home city, Timisoara. Until recently, he was a co-organizer of the Google Developer Group Timisoara, a tech community, and an active member of the Timisoara Toastmasters Club, a public speaking organization.

El Salvador

Iris Palma is the new Ambassador of El Salvador and a Salvadorian Economist and Master in Public Policies for the Social Development as well as Alumni Fellow of the Legislative Fellowship Program of the US Department of State. Currently she is a partner in INSERT, an NGO in El Salvador that promotes the benefits of co-working, open data and the benefits of ICT for social and economic development. In addition, she is a teacher of Economics at a private university in San Salvador, has worked as consultant in e-government and open data for both the Organization of the American States and her own country’s government, and as a regional consultant in competitiveness and innovation in Central America. As a writer, she has written some papers about Open Data, e-Government, Open Government and ICT and Competitiveness, among others topics. She believes in open knowledge as foundation for a world where people can create and improve their social, economic and cultural opportunities through ICT and education. Lastly, she is co-leading the Open Data Portal in El Salvador as well as other tools for open knowledge, public services evaluation, apps repository and entrepreneurship.

Philippines

Joseph De Guia is doing research on open government data for the Open LGU Research Project for the “Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC).” He was also the country lead researcher/contributor in Philippines for the Open Data Barometer, a global research project of the World Wide Web Foundation supported by IDRC. He has a Masters degree in Information Technology from the Carnegie Mellon University and Computer Science graduate of Mapua Institute of Technology. Joseph has extensive experience in application development, database administration, web development, content management, and project and process modeling. His research work on electronic health records, government enterprise architecture, and GIS applications has been presented in international and local conferences.

Malta

The new Local Group in Malta is lead by Charlie Abela, an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Intelligent Computer Systems within the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta. Charlie is a member of the Intelligent Data Management (IDAM) research group and is involved in a number of open data initiatives, including Hack4Malta and is responsible of the opendatamalta.com portal. He hold a MSc in Computer Science from the University of Malta and is pursuing a PhD in the area of Personal Information Management.

Iran

Babak Vandad, the new Ambassador in Iran, is a software developer. He has graduated in Computer Science from Shahid Beheshti University and advocates for the open source movement. His main area of interest is data visualization and graphical representation. Babak has been active on delivering IT services for Iranian institutions with open content since 2008.

Paraguay

Maricarmen Sequera is a lawyer specialized in intellectual property, copyright and related rights, biotechnology, and copyleft. Founder of TEDIC Association (Technology,Education, Development, Research and Communications), is currently President of TEDIC. Leader of the Creative Commons Paraguay Initiative, Democracy 2.0, and TESA 2.0 Digital Citizen Programme, and Founder of Hacks Hackers Asunción. Maricarmen is a free Software consultant and has published several articles on issues about copyright and civil rights on the Internet. She is a member of the Internet Society (ISOC) – Paraguay’s chapter, and also is representative at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN) for TEDIC.

We encourage everyone to get in touch with these new Local Groups – to join, connect and collaborate! Contact information can be found via our global network page.

Get Updates