Recent Developments in Open Data Policy

Presentation by Paul Uhlir:  “Several International organizations have issued policy statements on open data policies in the past two years. This presentation provides an overview of those statements and their relevance to developing countries.

International Statements on Open Data Policy

Open data policies have become much more supported internationally in recent years. Policy statements in just the most recent 2014-2016 period that endorse and promote openness to research data derived from public funding include: the African Data Consensus (UNECA 2014); the CODATA Nairobi Principles for Data Sharing for Science and Development in Developing Countries (PASTD 2014); the Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age (LIBER 2014); Policy Guidelines for Open Access and Data Dissemination and Preservation (RECODE 2015); Accord on Open Data in a Big Data World (Science International 2015). This presentation will present the principal guidelines of these policy statements.

The Relevance of Open Data from Publicly Funded Research for Development

There are many reasons that publicly funded research data should be made as freely and openly available as possible. Some of these are noted here, although many other benefits are possible. For research, it is closing the gap with more economically developed countries, making researchers more visible on the web, enhancing their collaborative potential, and linking them globally. For educational benefits, open data assists greatly in helping students learn how to do data science and to manage data better. From a socioeconomic standpoint, open data policies have been shown to enhance economic opportunities and to enable citizens to improve their lives in myriad ways. Such policies are more ethical in allowing access to those that have no means to pay and not having to pay for the data twice—once through taxes to create the data in the first place and again at the user level . Finally, access to factual data can improve governance, leading to better decision making by policymakers, improved oversight by constituents, and digital repatriation of objects held by former colonial powers.

Some of these benefits are cited directly in the policy statements themselves, while others are developed more fully in other documents (Bailey Mathae and Uhlir 2012, Uhlir 2015). Of course, not all publicly funded data and information can be made available and there are appropriate reasons—such as the protection of national security, personal privacy, commercial concerns, and confidentiality of all kinds—that make the withholding of them legal and ethical. However, the default rule should be one of openness, balanced against a legitimate reason not to make the data public….(More)”