e-Government and the re-use of public sector information
DE SAULLES, MARTIN (2005) e-Government and the re-use of public sector information In: Proceedings of the 5th European conference on e-Government, Antwerp, Belgium, 16-17 June 2005.
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As the largest generators of information, local and national government bodies have a central role to play in the development of information-intensive economies. This includes information on the economy, census data and geographic data from land planning agencies. The EU Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information lays out guidelines for how public bodies should make this information available and mechanisms for charging users wishing to re-use and repackage it. The process of drafting this directive incorporated a number of consultations that generated a large number of responses from both producers and users of public sector information. At the heart of many of these responses lies a debate on whether, and if so how, public bodies should charge for the information they produce. At one end of this debate are those who argue for free and open access to this information on the basis that the broader economic and social benefits to society will outweigh any benefits to individual government bodies from charging for access. At the other end are proponents of the introduction of charging mechanisms which may encourage public bodies to act as commercial suppliers in the information marketplace. These arguments serve to highlight a number of important issues surrounding the economics of information as well as the role of government in the provision of information services to citizens and organisations. This paper explores some of these discussions and argues that an open access model of public sector information provision provides a basis for a more vibrant and inclusive European economy. These arguments are particularly relevant within discussions of e-Government as new interactive technologies and networks provide platforms for the efficient delivery of information to end users in a variety of formats.
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