Feeds

UK government rebuffs cries for free postcode database

PAF remains fee-based, despite non-profit grumbles

Boost IT visibility and business value

Number 10 has responded negatively to a petition signed by over 2,000 people that asked the government to convince the Royal Mail to offer a free postcode database to non-profit and community websites.

Sadly, a day is a long time on the internet, and following yesterday's data.gov.uk love-in, Prime Minister Gordon Brown today returned to appeasing commercial interests.

In a long statement on its petition website, Number 10 reiterated its "arm's length relationship" with the state-owned Royal Mail.

"The Postcode Address File (PAF) dataset was designed and engineered by Royal Mail and is owned and managed by the company as a commercial asset of the business (containing around 29 million addresses in the UK)," it said.

"Royal Mail developed the PAF with the primary purpose to aid the efficient delivery of mail, though over the years the PAF has come to be used for a number of purposes other than the postal purpose for which it is designed and was established."

UK.gov pointed out that the PAF was used by organisations and businesses large and small across Blighty, at some expense to the country's largest postal service.

"Royal Mail invests significantly in collating and maintaining the Postcode Address File (PAF) and this cost is recovered through an independently regulated licensing arrangement," it said, echoing a statement the Royal Mail gave to The Register in December.

The government then goes on to explain that replicating the database would be "time-consuming and costly". However, the Royal Mail's PAF data fee-based licences, that are issued by postal watchdog Postcomm, allow others to use it.

"Under Section 116 of the Postal Services Act 2000, Royal Mail must maintain the PAF and make it available to any person who wishes to use it on 'such terms as are reasonable'," it said.

Number 10 added that the Royal Mail had every right to charge for supplying the PAF to businesses and individuals, in part to help "safeguard" its intellectual property rights.

"Royal Mail’s licence obliges the company to make access to the PAF available on reasonable terms. Postcomm allows the company to make a reasonable specified profit margin and monitors its accounts," it said.

Postcomm undertook public consultation reviewing how the PAF was managed in 2006, and concluded its findings in 2007, said the government.

However, UK.gov made no mention of current public consultation taking place about the the PM's desire to open some parts of the Ordnance Survey data to British citizens.

A decision about that data is expected to be announced in April this year. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.