A Battle For Open Public Data In South Africa | Intellectual Property Watch
"Amid growing calls for the controversial Protection of State Information bill to be referred to the Constitutional Court of South Africa, open data activists are fighting a separate but related battle for government to release its data to the public. Critics of the bill, popularly referred to as the secrecy bill, fear it will be used to persecute whistleblowers and stifle press freedom. The bill was passed by a majority vote in Parliament on 25 April and now needs to be signed by President Jacob Zuma in order for it to become law. It is against this backdrop and the debate about information control that data activists are turning up the volume on their demands for government and publicly funded institutions to release data. Activists and others argue that to do so will increase transparency and is the impetus for building free and commercial information products that can aid decision-making. Open Data and Democracy Initiative co-founder Adi Eyal has been making several considered and deliberate requests to various government departments for data and monitoring their responses, if he gets a response at all. 'Data is not easily available,' he said. 'In most cases, government has not been explicitly reluctant to release data but it’s not clear how to access it. Licences are unclear and often very restrictive. Data should be licensed under open licences and commercial use would be allowed, why not?' Open data, it appears, has not entered the realm of debate within government ..."