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Continuing the series of articles about What is a “request for re-use” and how do we make it right?, this time we deal with the situation in UK.

 Legislative framework

Let’s take a look at the legislation. The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (SI 2015 No. 1415) (the ‘2015 Regulations’) are in force from 18 July 2015 and transpose Directive 2003/98/EC as amended by Directive 2013/37/EC (the ‘Amending Directive’).

Access to public sector information is provided for under different regimes, such as  the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Freedom of information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

On The National Archives’ website there is a wealth of information on the PSI Directive transposition and re-use regulations. You will find some useful documents such as an implementation guidance for re-users and a template form for requesting re-use; there are also additional resources for public sector bodies.

Providing a kind of summary of the implementation guidance for re-users is beyond the scope of this article but it is worth mentioning and commenting some highlights.

Public sector body information is presumed to be re-usable once access is obtained, unless the information is otherwise restricted or excluded.

There is a distinction between access to, and re-use of public sector information, but once you have the first one, you have the second one. For instance, information published on a public sector body’s website would be exempt from an access request by virtue of being already reasonably accessible (section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000). This information would be available for re-use.

If information is not under an open licence, you must make a request for re-use to the public sector body that holds the information.

If there is no open license, permission has to be sought.

 The guidance describes also how to make a request for re-use.

  • The request should be made in writing (paper, email, or via online form where provided)
  • It should be clear and specific about what information you want to re-use
  • It should describe how you intend to re-use the information
  • And it should be reasonable in volume and complexity

Of course, the request has to be addressed to the public sector body that produces, holds or disseminates the information. However if you do not know exactly which public sector body has the data you are interested in or you are afraid of doing something wrong there is an alternative.

 

WhatDoTheyKnow

If you are looking for a more supervised procedure the whatdotheyknow website is a great help in this context. Its repository contains more that 500.000 requests and more than 23.000 public authorities.  You can browse the repository to find similar requests to the one you plan to make or to find an authority you think might have the information. But not only. It provides you with a form to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and access information about public authorities.

First, you have to indicate to which public sector body you want to make a request.

A live search box helps you finding the public sector body while you type.

Then you are presented with a form where you have to insert the summary and the description of the request. Sometimes at the top of the form, you can find additional information on the public sector body chosen; for instance a description of the activities of the body and some useful hints to take care of.

 

PSI requests using WhatdoTheyKnow

As you may noticed WhatDoTheyKnow is focused on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests; there is no mention of the 2015 Regulations in the website. Nevertheless, this does not imply that you cannot make a PSI request using this route.

Simply put a reference to the 2015 Regulations in the description, something like this:

I am seeking permission under the Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 to reuse the information you provide.

 

Add your PSI request to PSI Monitor

You can either add your request to both whatdotheyknow.com and psimonitor.eu or add it just to whatdotheyknow and take care to include in the description the tag #psimonitor.  

The tag will allow to automatically add the request to the PSI Monitor repository.

This week the series of articles on how to make a PSI request in the EU member states continues by analysing the case of Austria.

 

Legislative framework

The legislative framework in Austria is similar to the one in Germany, i.e. multifaceted as we saw in our previous article.

The country is divided in 9 federal states (Länder in German) and each Land has a legislative body called Ladtag which legislates within the limits established by the constitution. Beside this state legislation there is the federal legislation which is produced by the National Council (Nationalrat) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat), the latter composed by representatives of the nine federal states.

In general, law initiatives are taken at National Council level and confirmed by the Federal Council. The Federal Council can initially veto them, but the National Council may still force them to be adopted by essentially just passing them again.

In view of the above, it becomes clear why the PSI Directive has been transposed by legislative measures at federal level and at Länder level.

 

Federal measures

 Federal Act amending the law on the re-use of public sector information  BGBl I nr. 76/2015, 9.07.2015

Original language version | EN translation

Federal Act amending the law on the re-use of public sector information  BGBl I nr. 76/2015, 9.07.2015

Original language version | EN translation

Länder measures

Vienna

Law on the re-use of public sector information of the Land of Vienna - LGBl. N° 52/2005, 20/09/2005

Original language version |  EN translation

Law amending the Law on re-use of public sector information of the Land of LGBI No. 29/2015, 24/07/2015

Original language version | EN translation

Carinthia

Act on accountability, privacy and statistics of the Land of Carinthia of 7/07/2005 LGBl. N° 70/2005, 17/10/2005

Original language version | EN translation 

Law No 22 of 29 October 2015 amending the Carinthian Information and Statistics Act, the Carinthian Provincial Archives Act and the Carinthian Provincial Museums

Original language version | EN translation

Vorarlberg

Act on the re-use of documents held by public bodies, consolidated version as per 18 August 2015 LGBl. (Provincial Law Gazette) No 42/2006*), 44/2013, 47/2015**)

Original language version | EN translation

Lower Austria

Information Act

Consolidated law in original language version | EN translation of 2006 amendment EN translation of the 2015 amendment

 Tirol

Law on the reuse of public sector information, consolidated version as per 10 November 2015

Original language version | EN translation

 Burgendland

Law on accountability, the re-use of public sector information and the statistics of the Land of Burgenland), LGBl. N° 14/2007, 12/02/2007

Original language version | EN translation 

 

Based on the table above, you can prepare a PSI request by citing the right acts provided that you know the details of the public body that owns the data you are looking for and its Land. Nevertheless, if you do not know these details or you want some guidance there is an online tool you can rely on.

Fragdenstaat.at

The FragDenStaat platform available at https://fragdenstaat.at it is very similar to its cousin https://fragdenstaat.de, which we talked about here. The main difference is that the Austrian platform is mainly focused on make requests under the access to information than to the reuse of it, while in the German counterpart this orientation is more mitigated.

A plus of using this platform is the database of more than 2100 public sector bodies details, among which you can search for those of your interest and address your request directly to them.

Our suggestion is to leverage this platform to make your PSI request by adopting the following steps.

1) Click on “Stellen Sie eine Anfrage” on the top menu and look for the public sector body you want to contact, the system will help you.

 

2) Select “Informationen aus Dokumenten oder Akten (Informationsfreiheitsanfrage)” and click on “zum nächsten Schritt” button.

3) Write the subject of the request and the description. Since the system does not include them automatically in the request, make explicit reference to the Federal laws and the laws of the relevant Land in the description. You can easily find them in the table above.

4) Optionally add the tag #psimonitor at the end of the request. It helps us in filtering and adding your PSI request to the PSI Monitor database without any action on your part.

5) Complete the other fields of the from, click on “Überprüfen und Absenden” button and you are done. 

 

 

 

 

This is the second post on how to make a PSI request in the EU member states. In the first one, “What is a “request for re-use”? And how do we make it right?“, we have clarified what is a PSI request and how to make it in French, this time we will examine how the things work in Germany.


First of all a brief overview of the legislation in force.

In Germany the legal framework concerned data processed or held by public sector bodies is quite complex and not exactly crisp: access to information and re-use is included in several specific laws that may be federal or regional laws.

For instance at national level, we have:

  • Transposition of the PSI Directive, Informationsweiterwendungsgesetz (IWG) of 13.12.2006, last amended on 08/07/2015
  • Freedom of Information Act (IFG) of 01.01.2006, last amended on 07.08.2013
  • Environmental Information Act (UIG) of 22.12.2004, last amended on 27.10.2014
  • Consumer Information Act (VIG) of 05.11.2007, last amended on 07.08.2013
  • Federal law on access to geographic data (Gesetz über den Zugang zu digitalen Geodaten -Geodatenzugangsgesetz (GeoZG) from 10.02.2009, last changed on 07.11.2012
  • Law for the advancement of digital public administration, Gesetz zur Förderung der elektronischen Verwaltung (E-Government-Gesetz - EGovG) 05/07/2017.

 

At regional level, we have:

  • Land Information Freedom Act Baden-Württemberg (LIFG) of 30.12.2015
  • Berlin Freedom of Information Act (IFG) of 15.10.1999, last amended on 06/23/2015
  • File Access and Information Access Act Brandenburg (AIG) of 10.03.1998, last changed on 15.10.2013
  • Bremen Freedom of Information Act (BremIFG) of 16.05.2006, last amended on 05/03/2015
  • Hamburg Transparency Act (HmbTG) of 06.10.2012
  • Freedom of Information Act Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (IFG MV) from 10.07.2006, last changed on 20.05.2011
  • Freedom of Information Act North Rhine-Westphalia (IFG NRW) of 27.11.2001, last changed on 16.10.2014.

 

As you may have noticed, in Germany there is a Freedom of Information Act (IFG) since 2006, but it only applies to the federal authorities. In fact, Germany is a federal state consisting of 16 Länder. It is up to the Länder parliaments whether to adopt the IFG; as a result, some Länder (Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Saxony) have not yet adopted the IFG.

The question is even more complex considering that several municipalities have introduced a freedom of information Statute; for instance, in Bayern they are around 80 (source: https://informationsfreiheit.org/). 

So, given this complicated web of rules, how to make a PSI request to a German public sector body?
Fortunately, it is simpler as it seems. 

An easy way to make a re-use request to a German public sector body

Thanks to a very active community of people devoted to the freedom of information, you can leverage a non-profit online platform, fragdenstaat.de.
  

This platform, active since 2011, allows you to make a request to a German public sector body in a matter of a few clicks.

Just click on “Anfrage stellen” on the header of the main page, look for the public sector body which owns the information you want leveraging the internal database of bodies and finally complete a lean form.

 

 

Once you have added the request, the platform forwards it to the public sector body. You will receive a notification email as soon as the body replies to your request.

The request is archived on a public available database just like the PSI Monitor. In fact, the most recent requests are automatically loaded also in the PSI Monitor database.

Pay attention to the form: it considers that you are making a request under IFG/UIG/VIG legislation and not under IWG (i.e. Informationsweiterverwendungsgesetz, the transposition of the PSI Directive). Therefore it is better to specify it in the text of the request.

See as a reference the following requests:

https://fragdenstaat.de/anfrage/iwg-antrag-ergebnisse-fruherer-bundestagswahlen/

https://fragdenstaat.de/anfrage/iwg-antrag-tabellen-aus-bundestags-drs-1813360/

https://fragdenstaat.de/anfrage/antrag-izgiwg-informationen-isa-portal/

In particular, the last one represents an interesting case study of a successful request after an initial refusal by the public sector body involved.

 

Continuing the series of articles about What is a “request for re-use” and how do we make it right? This time we analyze how the things work in The Netherlands. The model they adopted is quite interesting.

As usual a brief overview of the legislation in force. The main reference is the Act of 24 June 2015 laying down rules on the re-use of public sector information. In particular, chapter two sets out the conditions for submitting requests for re-use requests. First of all, any person may submit a request for re-use to a public body or a body entrusted with a public task. Requests can be refused if they concern information forwhich a third party holds rights under the Copyright Act, the Related Rights Act or the Databases Act.
The most interesting part is contained in the Article 4 “Processing of requests”, point 1:

Where the request relates to data and documents held by a body entrusted with a public task other than that to which the request was submitted, the applicant shall be referred to that body if necessary. Written requests shall be forwarded and the applicant shall be notified.

In short, in case the re-user does not address the right public body, there should be someone that forwards the request to the public body that owns the requested data.


Who is this “someone”?

Data.overheid.nl – the data portal of the Dutch government

The Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has made available a data portal (https://data.overheid.nl/) which collects information about and references to datasets of the Dutch authorities.

But not just that.

 

On this data portal you can submit a PSI request indicating which data you need and the public sector body where you think this data can be found.

The team of data.overheid.nl analyses the request, publishes it in the public repository of the data requests and redirects it to the data owner within the government, which may be or not the one you indicated.

Here you can find how the requests are managed.

On the public repository of the data requests you can track the status of your data request and of all the other data requests registered. The most recent requests are automatically loaded also in the PSI Monitor database, so you don't need to replicate the request here.


The schema adopted by the Dutch government is indeed a brilliant way to serve the needs of re-users and to maximize the usage of open data.

 

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