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UK.gov: Some Open Data are more open than others

Greatest Living Briton's star ratings will show you which

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The government’s long-awaited Open Data white paper, published this morning, introduces standards for “higher data usability”, according to the minister in charge.

Frances Maude made the claim in the paper, available here, that was published following an extended period of consultation on how government data should be released.

The new standards in question will mean public data is published in re-usable, machine-readable format and rated using a five-star scheme devised by web-daddy Tim Berners Lee.

TBL’s system awards a single star to data published in "any" format under an "open” licence and top marks where you link your data to other data. Dumping your data in Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet earns you two stars but using a non-proprietary format like CSV earns you three stars.

Maude said in the paper: “To ensure that there are no inequalities in the data market we will enhance access to data. We are unflinching in our belief that data that can be published should be published."

Under the paper, public data from different departments about the same subject will be published using the same standard formats with the same definitions.

All data will be made available through a re-designed data.gov.uk site, unveiled today. The site is intended to serve as a single, online access point.

The Cabinet Office will now also ask civil servants how to remove barriers to publishing data, according to the paper.

Meanwhile, a privacy expert will be appointed to the Data Transparency Board, which was established by the Prime Minister in 2010. According to the paper, the government is making sure “privacy experts are brought into all sector panel discussion across Whitehall when data releases are being considered".

Maude promised privacy would now be at the centre of discussions on data. "We will ensure that privacy is not considered as an afterthought but at the beginning of all discussions concerning the release of a new dataset. We will ensure that we keep pace with the latest technology so anonymised datasets remain anonymised and personal data remains personal," he wrote in the paper.

The job of the board is to ensure all Whitehall departments meet deadlines for release of data as well as meeting set open standards. It’s chaired by Cabinet Office Minister Frances Maude and Berners-Lee is one of its members. ®

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