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The state of Swedish digital policy: Open Knowledge Sweden at the annual Almedalen Political Summit

Guest - August 1, 2014 in Featured Project, OKF Sweden

This is a guest blog post by Kristina Olausson, Blog writer and editor for Open Knowledge Sweden. You can see the Swedish version it is based on here.

Almedalen 2014

Photo by Socialdemokrater, CC-BY-ND

Part of the team of Open Knowledge Sweden, Kristina Olausson and Mattias Axell, visited the annual politicians week – the Almedalen week at Gotland, Sweden. It is an event in which the political parties, interest groups and the public sector participates. The Almedalen week was initiated by Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1968 and has evolved to become the main political gathering of the year. Even though the outline has changed over time it now follows a rather fixed pattern. Each party has one day of the week dedicated to their events, and the party leader gives a speech in the evening. In parallel to what the parties arrange, there is a huge number of seminars organized by different interest groups, companies and public sector bodies. This year more than 3500 seminars could be found in the program. By participating, Open Knowledge Sweden aimed to follow the current debates on Swedish digital policy and what importance these have in the upcoming Swedish national elections this autumn. During the week we took part in seminars on digitalization, integrity and open data. 

Almedalen 2014

Photo by djurensratt, CC-BY-NC

Since last year a change can be noticed in the attitude towards open data among Swedish public sector bodies and municipalities. It is now more open an positive, less skeptical. The question is no longer if, but how the public sector can make its information easier to use. More public sector bodies (PSBs) than before have started working with open data. However, with regards to the OKFN definition of open data, it should be noted that in these cases it is rather the re-use of public sector information than open data that is discussed. The municipality Skellefteå and the region Västerbotten arranged a seminar on open data and how the possibilities of innovation can be used. They also raised the question about how the responsibility for this process should be devided between the public and private sector as well as other interested parties. Henrik Ishihara, an expert working for Anna-Karin Hatt, the Minister for Information Technology and Energy, said that about 40 percent of all PSBs now work with re-use of public information. Janne Elvelid, former employee of the Committee of Digitization, was more sceptical to the current development and showed that Sweden has actually lost its place among the leading countries on IT.  Almedalen 2014

Photo by Kristina Olausson, CC-BY-SA

At another seminar organized by Lantmäteriet, who offer map-data, discussed if charges should be put on data and if so, how much. The public sector body itself has now started to work more actively to make their data open. Why then are Swedish PSBs and municipalities lacking behind their European colleagues in this development?  According to many actors the main obstacle in making more data open is the demand on the PSBs to charge for re-use of data. The principle of publicity is an old tradition in Sweden which implies that all public information is available to the public. However, this does not mean that it is for free. What separates Sweden from many other European countries is the fact that many public sector bodies are obliged to charge for re-use of data. It was argued by some actors we met that it will be impossible to create more re-use without removing the rules of charging. In the case of Lantmäteriet, they estimate that the removal of charges on their map-data will cost about 100 million Swedish kronor (about 12 million euro). 

The possibilies of digitazation was another theme of many seminars. Dagens Industri and SAS Institute organized one to discuss how the public sector can use big data (as already done by the private sector) to predict certain patterns in society. This could for example be finding the next flue crisis by analysing Facebook status updates. One challenge put forward in this discussion is the fact that many public services are offered by the 290 Swedish municipalities (kommuner). As there is a strong self-governing principle in Sweden, the municipalities are not collaborating on many of these services which makes it hard for small municipalities to invest in digitalization. Thus, more collaboration is needed not only for municipalities but also for public sector bodies.

Cloud services is a positive possibility of developing the public services as the goal is to have more service online and thus also more information stored in this format. In the mean time, during this development, there is a need to take privacy issues into account. Microsoft arranged a number on seminars on this theme during the week. One that we attended was regarding privacy in schools in combination with cloud services. In Sweden the Salem-case is especially well known. The municipality Salem was criticized by the Data Inspection Authorities because they let their students use Google’s cloud services which was regarded not to have sufficient protection for the pupils’ privacy. How this should be done in practice is still under political discussion, if so very limited. At a seminar by Ernst and Young company representatives of some of our big telephone- and network operators said this has led to they themselves having to make their own priorities on privacy. This might however not be positive as it could lead to companies starting to censor their net services, according to their own liking. This might lead to less transparent processes of handling these issues. Additionally, not all companies are happy to take on this responsibility themselves. The debated judgement from the European Court of Justice in the case Google Spain vs. Mario Costeja González was used as an example by David Mothander, Nordic Policy Advisor at Google Almedalen 2014

Photo by FORES, CC-BY

He was critical to the judgement, also called the right to be forgotten, states that internet search engine operators are responsible for “the processing that it carries out of personal data which appear on web pages published by third parties“. Naturally, it is not surprising that a company like Google does not want to be responsible for such procedures. However it also leads to interesting questions on who should be responsible for protecting the privacy and personal data of individuals. The opportunities of digitization was also discussed at a seminar with representatives of youth party organisations. While the left (and the youth organisation of the Swedish democrats) were most concerned about the surveillance society, the right wing parties wanted better conditions for companies. They instead want the state to take care of the infrastructure (broad band etc.) and the companies should run the development. The interesting aspect of this seminar was foremost that it had such a high density of politicians. Generally the events on the themes we covered did not have that many political representatives in the panels. Thus it has been hard to evaluate the digital politics of the parties with regards to the upcoming elections this autumn.

Almedalen 2014

Photo by Lärarnas Nyheter, CC-BY-NC-ND

Digital policy has not been a central theme to this years election campaigns. However, even though the Swedish politicians were not discussing these issues intensively many interesting ideas were put forward by interest groups and companies. Open Data is still not common among Swedish public sector bodies. Even though some mix up the terms, it is rather re-use of public sector information that is discussed. The positive change that can be noticed is that the representatives of the public sector who participated in this year’s Almedalen week had a more open attitude towards the possibility of re-using their data. Open Knowledge Sweden works to advocate more re-use of information from the public sector and we are positive towards the ongoing shift in Sweden regarding these issues. We believe that more re-use will create huge value for society, both within the public and private sector. The main obstacle is not the technological shift, that some want to point at, but rather the rule of charges that applies to many public sector bodies who collects and offer public information. Unfortunately it seems that politicians are not prioritizing to change the current system. The more probable next step will be that public sector bodies themselves try to find ways of limiting the charges. However, the decision to charge remains with the government.

Except for following the current debates on Swedish digital policy, the Almedalen week was an opportunity to make contact with other actors and advocates of digitalization. There seems to be a general support and interest in making data open for re-use. However, we will probably have to wait until after our national elections this autumn to see real change regarding such issues in Sweden.

Thank you for joining us at Open Knowledge Festival 2014!

Beatrice Martini - July 28, 2014 in Events, Featured, Join us, News, OKFest, OKFestival

Thank you for joining us in Berlin and helping to shape OKFestival and the future of the open knowledge movement!

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We hope that the event provided you with the opportunity to learn, to share and to connect with open knowledge advocates from around the world. While we were excited and inspired by the collaborations and activities we saw springing up over the course of the week, we know that we can always do better and we want to hear from you about what we did well and what you would change. Furthermore, we’d like to encourage all the festival participants to keep sharing – ideas, blogposts, photos, videos, anything which can make the work done last week together resonate with everyone who was there but also everyone who couldn’t join us in person but can still fuel the upcoming projects online!

So, in the spirit of Open Minds to Open Action – let’s call for action!

i) Tell us how it was for you! Firstly, we’d like to ask for your feedback about the event to help us with planning for the future. We’d really appreciate your answers to this survey, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete: okfestival.org/feedback

ii) Content from the festival Next, we’d like to remind you of all the great content created at – and around – the Festival, and to encourage you to check it out and contribute to it.

  • Etherpads Every session had an etherpad, which is an online tool for note-taking. You can find them listed on the Sched page for the corresponding session or you may want to browse the “pad of pads” where they’re all listed.
  • Photos We saw lots of great photos being tweeted from the event and would love to collect as many as possible in the festival Flickr pool so that everyone can find them. So whether you snapped people enjoying ice cream or artists creating graffiti, please do add your images to the group here.
  • Articles & blog posts Again, we’ve seen lots of tweets sharing blog posts about the festival – if you’ve written one or seen one you liked, please add it to this document so we can gather them all in one place and put the links up as a record on the festival website.

Finally, if you’d like to relive some of the festival, you might want to check out our short video celebrating the event. Enjoy!

Thanks once again for your energy, contributions and enthusiasm in making Open Knowledge Festival 2014 our best event yet.

With love, Your OKFestival Team

OKFestival: Day Two Highlights & Wrap Up

Katelyn Rogers - July 25, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFest, OKFestival

What a Week!

Opening Ceremony OKFestival 14

Between five incredible keynotes, 70+ participatory sessions, an unFestival and countless fringe events, not to mention informal strategizing in the courtyards of the Kulturbrauerei, I am sure that we are all still taking some time to process all the information. Last week, our incredible volunteers put together a Day 1 roundup, highlighting all the exciting conversations that were taking place! Here is just a taste of what happened on Day 2!

We kicked off Day Two with a keynote from Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner responsible for the digital rights agenda, who called on the open movement to put the pressure on national governments to open up data in order to help create jobs and stimulate growth. She highlighted the need to change the mindset of public administrations, to show them that there is a better way, an open way. After a standing ovation from the audience, Eric Hysen had a tough act to follow and was up for the challenge!  He joined us on the OKFestival stage to highlight that open data is not enough and if we truly want to create more innovative societies, we *have* to build the necessary infrastructure. If you missed it, you can read it here.

If you missed the Thursday morning keynotes, you can watch them here:

Following the keynotes, OKFestival participants spread throughout the Kulturbrauerei to share, learn and innovate together in 30 different interactive sessions and at the unFestival. All thirty sessions and the unFestival would be difficult to recap in a single blog post but you can check out the etherpads for all the the sessions here or our Storify of day two!

Here are a few photos of the day:

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Finally, because we were, after all, at a Festival, we ended with a live performance from Juliani, Valsero and The Swag. Thank you Artists Without a Cause!

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Stay tuned, OKFestival official photos and videos are coming soon! In the mean time, if you want to help us tell the OKFestival story, please add your blogs to our list & your photos to our flickr pool.  Thanks for joining us in Berlin last week, it wouldn’t have been the same without each and everyone of you! 

Image Credit: Arte Pilpilean EgonOpenCorporates GalleryBurt Lum, Open Data Research Network , Mark Braggins

Open Knowledge Festival – the story so far…

Theodora Middleton - July 16, 2014 in OKFestival

It is hot hot hot here in Berlin, and the Festival is in full swing! In every corner, little groups are clustered, sharing ideas, plotting, and putting faces to profiles. From graffiti walls to linked budgets, from destroying printers to building a social contract for open data – the only problem is that you can’t be in five places at once!

Last night we proudly announced our School of Data Fellows – 12 amazing individuals from around the world, who will work with civil society and journalists in their regions to bring the power of open data to their work. You can read all about them here.

Today we heard inspiring keynotes from Patrick Alley, founder of Global Witness, and Beatriz Busaniche, founder of Wikimedia Argentina. We also heard from the awesome Ory Okolloh, activist, lawyer and blogger from Kenya, before dispersing into a whirlwind of workshops, talks and connecting.

Here are a few photos from the past couple of days. We’ll bring you more tales from Berlin soon, and you can keep up to date on twitter, storify and through the Festival website.

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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

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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.

OpenCorporates invites you to join the launch of #FlashHacks

Guest - July 10, 2014 in Featured Project

This is a guest blog post by OpenCorporates.

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OpenCorporates is now 3 years old. Looking back our first blog on the Open Knowledge (Foundation) blog about reaching 20 million companies, it is heartening to see that we have come a long way. We now have over 70 million companies in 80 jurisdictions worldwide making us the world’s largest open database of companies. The success story of OpenCorporates is not that of a tiny team but that of the whole open data community because it has always been a community effort thanks to the efforts of Open Knowledge and others. From writing scrapers to alerting us when new data is available, deciphering language issues or helping us grow our reach – the open data community has been the driver behind OpenCorporates.

Yet, while our core target of a URL for every single company in the world is making great progress, there’s a bigger goal here – of de-siloing all the government data that relates to companies and connecting it to those companies. In fact, one of the most frequent questions has been “How can I help get data into OpenCorporates?” Now, we have an answer to that. Not just an answer – a brand new platform, that makes it possible for the community to help us get company-related data into OpenCorporates.

To start this new era of crowdscraping – we launched a #FlashHacks campaign which aims to get 10 million datapoints in 10 days. With your help, we are confident we can smash the target.

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Why is this important?

Information about public and private sector is of monumental importance to understanding and changing the world we live in. Transnational corporations can wield unprecedented influence on politics and economy and we have a limited capacity to understand this when we don’t know what these legal entities look like. The influence of these companies can be good or bad and we don’t have a clear picture of this.

Company information is often not available and when it is, it is buried under hard-to-use websites and PDFs. Fortunately, the work of the open data and transparency community has brought a tide of change. With the introduction of Open Government Partnership and G8 Open Data Charter, governments are committing to make this information easily and publicly available. Yet, action on this front remains slow. And that’s why scraping is at the heart of the open data movement! Where would the open data community be if it had not been for bot-writers spending time deciphering formats and writing code to release data?

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We want to use #FlashHacks as a celebration of the commitment of bot-writers and invite others to join us in changing the world through open data.

#FlashHacks at OKFestival

The last day of the campaign coincides with the last day of OKFestival, probably, the biggest gathering of the open data community. So, we will be putting on three #FlashHacks in partnership with Open Knowledge Germany, Code for Africa and Sunlight Foundation.

The OKF Germany #FlashHack will be releasing German data. Sign up here.

The Sunlight Foundation #FlashHack will be releasing political lobbying data. Sign up here.

The Code for Africa #FlashHack will be releasing African data. Sign up here.

How you can join the crowdscraping movement if you can’t make it to OKFest?

  • If you can code in Ruby and/or Python, join http://missions.opencorporates.com and sign up!
  • Have a look at the datasets we have listed on the Campaign page! If there is a dataset you think we should include in this, please put that down here.
  • Sign up to a mission! Send a tweet pledge to say you have taken on a mission.
  • Write the bot and submit on the platform.
  • Tweet your success with the #FlashHacks tag! Don’t forget to upload the FlashHack design as your twitter cover photo and facebook cover photo to get more people involved.

Any problems – you can post on our Google Group.

#OKStory

Heather Leson - July 9, 2014 in Events, Ideas and musings, Interviews, Network, OKFest, OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation

Everyone is a storyteller! Just one week away from the big Open Brain Party of OKFestival. We need all the storytelling help you can muster. Trust us, from photos to videos to art to blogs to tweets – share away.

The Storytelling team is a community-driven project. We will work with all participants to decide which tasks are possible and which stories they want to cover. We remix together.

We’ve written up this summary of how to Storytell, some story ideas and suggested formats.

There are a few ways to join:

  • AT the Event: We will host an in person meetup on Tuesday, July 15th to plan at the Science Fair. Watch #okstory for details. Look for the folks with blue ribbons.
  • Digital Participants: Join in and add all your content with the #okfest14 @heatherleson #OKStory tags.
  • Share: Use the #okstory hashtag. Drop a line to heather.leson AT okfn dot org to get connected.

We highlighted some ways to storytell in this brief 20 minute chat:

Make Some Story Noise

Heather Leson - July 4, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Network, OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation

Stories wanted! We’re building a community storytelling team starting with OKFestival. Whether you are in Berlin for the big event or across the globe, our goal is to co-create and compile all the best OKFestival Stories. Many of you tell stories with video, photo, images and text. Some of you are master wordsmiths and aggregators. One could even opine that hardware, art and code are very much stories. Well, at OKFestival we will run the gamut of all things open from science to education to balloon maps to budgets and graffiti.

The community will be sharing content across many tools using many methods. We are building an in person and remote Storytelling team to capture all the gems, visions and tidbits. Even if you are not at the event, you can be our eyes and curators.

(All the links are on our OKFest Storytelling wiki page)

We have a few ways you can participate: Suggest some stories, Join a Storytelling team (digital or in person) or Go rogue! Be sure use some of the recommended ways to share. We will be remixing this as we co-create our Community Playbook.

Make some noise – join our OKFestival Storytelling Team Learn more in our Community Session

  • Date: Wednesday, July 9 , 2014
  • Time: Date:July 9, 2014 Time: 08:00-9:00 EDT /12:00-13:00 UTC / 13:00- 14:00 BST /14:00 – 15:00 CEST (worldtimebuddy.com)
  • Register here

If you can’t join the hangout, please be sure to reach out to heather.leson AT okfn DOT org or neal.bastek AT OKFN DOT org. We’ll be sure to brief you and collaborate on the next steps.

We are the Community: Join our OKFest community summit

Guest - July 4, 2014 in OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

This is a guest blog post by Kersti from Open Knowledge Netherlands and Rayna from Open Knowledge France/OpenMENA. Both are leading the organisation of the Open Knowledge Community Summit with the support of the Open Knowledge Central team.

Less than two weeks to go until the global open community will meet in Berlin and at digital and physical fringe events all over the world. OKFestival is driven by the shared values and the enthusiasm for openness of hundreds of people from all cardinal directions.

We are all engaged with the Open Knowledge network for a reason, for a cause. But what is it that brings us together and how do we want to shape this community for the future? These are crucial questions and we wish to dedicate a full afternoon to discuss, define and shape it together!

WE ARE THE COMMUNITY and as such, we would like YOU to join a very special fringe event, the OKFestival Community Summit

Everyone is welcome to participate, whether you consider yourself an active member of the community or are simply interested in meeting people over an in-depth discussion about strengthening digital communities.

When and Where?

The OKFestival Community Summit will take place on Tuesday July 15th, 2014 from 13:00 to 16:00. We have booked a space at the OKFestival Venue, the Kulturbrauerei, and so you can find us in the Franz Club.

Why is this event important?

The OKFestival Community event offers the unique occasion for everyone to meet, discuss and craft our identity as the Open Knowledge community, the way we envision it and the way we can all continue to identify with it.

We are a fast-growing group of like-minded individuals who have had the pleasure of contributing to the rapid expansion of open knowledge community over the past few years. Such organic growth also poses new challenges and motivates us to rethink the way we interact with staff members and the different paths through which we can channel expertise and knowledge within the community. It is thus in our hands to shape a community that enables everyone to identify and engage with the path forward we choose to take!

Therefore, it will be imperative to shape this way forward together.

What will we discuss?

Through consultation with the community leading up to the festival, we have identified a handful of topics that we will discuss during the session:

  • How do we provide better support and follow-up to local groups, ambassadors, working groups and individual community members?
  • How do we develop mentorship opportunities and peer-to-peer support within the community?
  • How do we root more of some shape of organized effort in the Global South? What are the different challenges, depending on local contexts and more globally?
  • Community or organisation: how do we decide? Are we a network, a movement, a community — and what implications does that have for our structure and actions?
  • Community programming: what next? Co-building and interaction online.

There is still room for more ideas, so bring yours along!

We really hope you can join the summit. There are still tickets available — hurry up! If you would like to participate, sign up here!

Looking forward to seeing you all at the summit!

Open Knowledge Ireland celebrate FOI victory

Flora Fleischer - July 3, 2014 in OKF Ireland, Open Government Data

Open Knowledge Ireland are this week celebrating partial victory in their campaign against application fees for FOI requests. Here is their press release.

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Open Knowledge Ireland welcomes Minister Howlin’s announcement that Government has approved the removal of an application fee for Freedom of Information Requests

Open Knowledge Ireland welcomes the announcement by the Minister that the suggested reforms to the FOI fees regime includes the removal of the €15 application fee for non-personal requests.

On April 10th 2014 Open Knowledge Ireland together with a squad of Freedom of Information advocates for Ireland wrote an Open Letter to Minister Brendan Howlin asking to leverage the Government’s commitment to the Open Government Partnership as an opportunity to remove fees at all stages of FOI and AIE requests and appeals. The letter was signed by 74 signatories urging the Minister to consider the points outlined for his upcoming FOI bill.

On May 7th, at the Civil Society Day, which was held on the eve of the OGP Europe regional meeting, the upfront fees charged in Ireland for submission of FOI requests were brought to the attention of 120 civil society and government representatives from 30 countries.

And today we are pleased to see the Minister is taking a step in the right direction!

Denis Parfenov, Open Knowledge Ambassador for Ireland and one of the Founders of the Open Knowledge Chapter in Ireland, in his reaction today said that he “warmly welcomes this announcement”.

This is a great success story for all citizens and FOI advocates who were involved in pushing to drop FOI fees as part of Ireland’s first OGP Action Plan. Open Knowledge Ireland together with Irish citizens and other Irish civil society organisations had been pushing to include a commitment on free FOI requests into the 2 year Action Plan and we are very pleased that the Minister has considered the recommendations of the Irish Civil Society OGP Network.

Flora, Co-Founder at Open Knowledge Ireland gives an early reaction to the announcement and has collated early voices from passionate FOI advocates in Ireland:

Open Knowledge Ireland is adopting a cautious position to the FOI reforms announced today. While we’re welcoming the announcements and Minister Howlin’s consideration of the Open Government Partnership principles, we still need to wait until we see the full set of proposed amendments in order to make an accurate assessment of the impact of all the changes.

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