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Make a PSI request for re-use in Italy

 

How to make a request for re-use in the different member states? This time we are in Italy, let’s see how things work.

 Legislative framework

Directive 2003/98/EC (PSI Directive) was transposed through Legislative Decree 36/2006 but this has not given rise to any particular initiatives for a while.

Only in the last few years, new developments in the Open Data legislation put Italy in the forefront of those member states who embrace the principles of openness and transparency of public sector information, as evidenced by the upgrading of Italy from the Followers level to the Trend-setter according to the Open Data Maturity Index.

In fact, Italy has transposed Directive 2013/37/EU amending Directive 2003/98/EC on time through the legislative Decree no 102 of 18 May 2015. In 2016 the country has also introduced the Freedom Of Information Act through Legislative Decree no 97 of 25 May 2016.

So, is everything okay? Not exactly.

The efforts made to increase transparency in the public administration have led to some overlaps. At the moment there are three different kinds of administrative right of access:

  • the original right of access to administrative documents (Law no. 241/1990), which states that the applicant must demonstrate a qualified interest
  • the right of civic access to documents, data and information (legislative Decree no 33 of 14 March 2013), which allows access only to information that falls within the publication obligations provided for by law
  • the “generalized” right of civic access introduced by the above mentioned Freedom Of Information Act Legislative Decree no 97 of 25 May 2016, that allows private parties to obtain disclosure beyond the borders of compulsory application imposed by the previous Decree.

 

The coexsistence of three different rights of access, described in three different laws, is something that does not help simplification of norms and rules.

Further to that, the generalized civic access introduced an interesting – from the re-users point of view – side effect.

 Since Legislative Decree no 97 is an amendment of Legislative Decree no 33, it has kept some articles unchanged while it has changed others. For instance, the unchanged article 7 says that all information that has been object of civic access as per article 5 can be re-used with no broader limitations than the duty to mention their source and to use them properly.

The updated article 5 defines now the civic access at point 1 and point 2. Point 1, as before, limits the right to access to data already published or data not yet published but for which there is the pre-requisite of compulsory publication. Instead, new point 2 extends the right of access to data and documents not subject to mandatory publication.

The result is that with the “generalized” civic access anyone can access and reuse data and information with the duty to mention their source and to use them properly.

The overlap with the PSI Directive is clear. However interesting thing is that the re-users have now another weapon at their disposal to obtain an answer to their requests for reuse of public sector information.

 

In practice

Basically, to address a reuse request to an Italian public sector body, it is worth to have a look at its website; often you can download a module to be compiled and sent to the mail address indicated. An example here.

In the other cases, you have to create your request bearing in mind some general rules:

  • clearly indicate your identity and contacts
  • the request should not be generic; you should describe it in a way that allow identification of the data, document or information you are requesting
  • there is no obligation to motivate your request
  • add a reference to the relevant legislation; as we already seen, you can either invoke articles 5 and 6 of Legislative Decree 36/2006 (transposing Directive 2003/98/EC) as amended by Legislative Decree 102/2015 or articles 5 and 7 of legislative Decree no 97 of 25 May 2016.

Which one is the most appropriated to use? It depends on the kind of data requested and on the public sector body involved. In general there are limitations on which data you can obtain in both cases, for instance with regards to the reuse of personal data, but their investigation is beyond the scope of this article.

Then you can send the request directly to the public sector body or let PSI Monitor do it for you: register to psimonitor.eu, click on add your request and fill the form. 

There are also other tools that you can leverage to make a request; for instance www.FOIAPop.it lets you create a pdf form in a few clicks. At this time it is still in beta and may not work as expected.

Another tool is chiedi.dirittodisapere.it which allows you to make a request according to the generalized civic access. It appears not so active at the moment (last request inserted is dated May 2018); we have tried to contact the administrators of the website without success, anyway might be worth to give a look to the requests registered there to get a feel of the situation.

 

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