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Tag Archive: international

G8 countries must work harder to open up essential data

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.

Open data and transparency will be one of the three main topics at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next week. Today transparency campaigners released preview results from the global Open Data Census showing that G8 countries still have a long way to go in releasing essential information as open data.

The Open Data Census is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation, with the help of a network of local data experts around the globe. It measures the openness of data in ten key areas including those essential for transparency and accountability (such as election results and government spending data), and those vital for providing critical services to citizens (such as maps and transport timetables). Full results for the 2013 Open Data Census will be released later this year.

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OpenGov Voices: On the eve of a disappointing FOI law, Spanish civic organizations meet the challenge

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.

David CaboJacobo Elosua

Victoria Anderica

This guest post is co-authored by David Cabo, Victoria Anderica and Jacobo Elosua. David and Jacobo co-founded Fundación Ciudadana Civio, which promotes an engaged citizenry through transparency and data openness in Spain. Together, they empower citizens with information technologies and data journalism to demand for transparency and accountability from government. David also created dondevanmisimpuestos.es, a website that visualizes annual budgets from Spanish public administrations. Victoria Anderica works with Access Info Europe -- a group that provides access to legislation information under the Right to Information Rating projects. She is involved in the “Legal Leaks” -- a project that trains journalists on how to use access to information laws.

Corruption is the second biggest concern for Spaniards, right after unemployment, according to quarterly polls.

From news about fraud accusations about the King of Spain’s son-in-law to judicial investigations into the ruling People’s Party to a scandal involving the Socialist Party and major trade unions over unemployment benefits fraud, citizens are losing patience and much of the media’s attention is focused on the country’s institutions.

Civio Foundation petitionIn response to these scandals, the word “transparency” is suddenly heard in every corner, in every demonstration, in every TV debate. Many more Spaniards are now aware of what some civic organizations have been denouncing for years: Spain is the only country in Europe with more than one million inhabitants who do not have access to information legislation.

The Spanish Congress is currently debating a draft law that fails the test when subjected to most basic international standards. Access to information is still not a fundamental right in line with the ruling of international courts of human rights. Currently, the law only applies to administrative information – not to the judicial and legislative branches of the state. The definition of “administrative information” excludes drafts, notes, internal reports or communications between administrative bodies. And the monitoring and appeals body is not independent because it is part of the Ministry of Public Administrations.

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The Open Data Census Needs Your Help

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An increasing number of governments have now committed to open up data but how much data is actually being released? What kind of data is this and in what format? Which countries, regions and cities are the most advanced and which are lagging in relation to open data?

The Open Data Census has been developed by the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) to assist in answering these questions and assess the state of open data around the world. It collects and presents information on the evolution and current state of open data around the world. The Census is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated by the OKFN but with participation from many different groups or individuals. The Census was launched in April 2012 to coincide with the OGP meeting in Brasilia.

We want to help our friends at OKFN  improve the coverage of the Open Data Census (http://census.okfn.org/) and verify existing contributions to ensure information is still up to date and reliable. We need your help in doing this!

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As Middle East boils, Jordan press crackdown may be strategically ignored

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Patriot Missile launch, photo source Wikimedia With much of the Middle East a cauldron, seemingly stable allies in the region can get free passes from Washington. Consider longtime U.S. ally Jordan. The Hashemite Kingdom blocked access to perhaps as many as 300 "unregistered" media websites without any public comment from Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who has more pressing human rights issues: trying to prevent a "complete and total Syrian implosion." To that end, the U.S. is weighing an extended stay for Patriot missile batteries and F-16 combat aircraft currently in Jordan for military exercises. And that's not the only American assistance that the government of King Abdullah II is anticipating: there is a total $670 million in U.S. aid promised to Jordan this year, according to foreignassistance.gov. The greatest share, $310 million, goes to “peace and security” programs, most of which go to counter-terrorism efforts.

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Transparency advocates from all around the world

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A few months ago, we embarked on a journey to create a repository of civil society organizations working around transparency and open data issues from all around the world. With our annual TransparencyCamp having evolved into a significant hub for open government advocates alongside Sunlight’s growing involvement in the global and municipal open data movement, it seemed a logical next step to map the landscape of like-minded folks and create a single spreadsheet that tracks local and international players in the field.

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How Unique is the New U.S. Open Data Policy?

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The White House’s new Executive Order may be significantly different than the open data policies that have come before it on the federal level, but where does it stand in a global -- and local -- context? Many folks have already jumped at the chance to compare this new US executive order and the new policies that accompany it to a similar public letter issued by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010, but little attention has been paid to one of the new policy’s most substantial provisions: the creation of a public listing of agency data based on an internal audits of information holdings. As administrative as this provision might sound, the creation of this listing (and the accompanying scoping of what information isn’t yet public, but could be released) is part of the next evolution of open data policies (and something Sunlight has long called for as a best practice). So does this policy put the U.S. on the leading edge?

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