Green Paper on Public Information


Subject: Green Paper on Public Information
From: Barbara Schleihagen (Eblida@nblc.nl)
Date: ti 26 tammi 1999 - 11:29:08 EET


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The European Commission has finally published its Green Paper on Public
Sector Information. It can be downloaded in English, French, German and
Italian at:

http://www2.echo.lu/info2000/en/publicsector/greenpaper.html

The European Commission invites interested people to give their comments
and answers to the questions raised by 1 June 1999. The Commission tries to
find out how information gathered by government departments and other
public bodies can be used to provide greatest benefit to businesses and
citizens in Europe. A lot of information gathered by public bodies could be
used by the multimedia industry for developing new products and services.
Citizens could make better use of their rights if information was readily
available. But the technical and legal procedures and terms under which the
Member States make this information available are uncoordinated and
therefore not very transparent for citizens and business.

European industry is said to be at a disadvantage vis--vis its competitors
in the United States, where the "Freedom of Information Act" was passes
already in 1966, since when American public bodies have granted access free
of charge or for a small fee to highly developed information systems.

The Green Paper does not suggest that the Member States should gather or
publish more information but that the existing information which is
accessible in principle should be made available for use on more
transparent and simpler terms.

The Green Paper puts in the 30-pages document a number of questions,
including:

- What are the copyright, data-protection and liability implications?
- What new barriers are created at European level by the fact that the
conditions for access to this information differ from one Member State to
another?
- What are the consequences of the fact that the Member States have
different pricing policies for information of this kind?
- Could the establishment of European metadata help citizen and business in
finding their way in the public sector information throughout Europe?
- To what extent are the policies pursued by the European institutions in
the field of access and dissemination of information adequate?

Best wishes,
Barbara Schleihagen



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