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[liberationtech] Fwd: [open-government] France proposes police controls on who uses public information

Steven Clift clift at e-democracy.org
Mon Dec 6 05:29:12 PST 2010


FYI ... the press release is a bit dated, but the debate continues.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Victoria Anderica" <victoria at access-info.org>
Date: Nov 25, 2010 2:45 AM
Subject: [open-government] France proposes police controls on who uses
public information
To: <open-government at lists.okfn.org>
Cc: <n.kayserbril at gmail.com>



 [image: regards-citoyens]**

* *
* * * * *Press Release*

*For immediate publication*

*France proposes police controls on who uses public information*

*Madrid/Paris, 23 November 2010* – A law to be discussed in the French
parliament before the end of 2010 will result in the police carrying out
“behaviour” checks on members of the public and organisations wanting to
reuse information obtained from public bodies. The likely effect is to
severely limit access to information and freedom of expression.

The draft law currently before the French National Assembly amends the 1995
Police Security Act and will extend the scope of police “behaviour” checks
from legitimate purposes such as checking on those to have access to
dangerous substances and high security zones to those who want to reuse
information obtained from public bodies. The criteria for the background
checks are not specified in the law.

The information affected could include, for example, databases on public
spending, copies of laws, or electoral results. Much data held by local
authorities which is of great interest to the public such as schedules and
real-time locations of trains and buses, information about recycling
schemes, and construction works permits would also fall under these new
controls.

The associations Access Info Europe and Regards Citoyens today expressed
concerns that the law, if adopted, will significantly complicate and slow
access to information in France.

“This is an extremely dangerous law which would seriously limit freedom of
expression in France,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access
Info Europe.

“Subjecting those who wish to access and reuse public datasets to
vaguely-defined morality controls runs counter to the basic principles of
the freedom of expression and information enshrined in the French
Constitution, and is a violation of European Court of Human Rights
jurisprudence and EU law,” added Darbishire.

Access Info Europe notes that in 2010 many leading democracies such as the
US and the UK, Norway and Spain, Australia and New Zealand, are posting on
line large volumes of public data making them free for anyone in the world
to use. They do this out of recognition of the societal and economic
benefits that flow from the reuse of public sector information.

“If this provision were to be adopted, France would be closing down public
access to information rather than opening it up,” concluded Benjamin
Ooghe-Tabanou, co-founder of Regards Citoyens.

Notes for Editors:

1. Access Info Europe <http://www.access-info.org/> is a human rights
organisation head-quartered in Madrid which promote the right of access to
information and open government data in Europe. Access Info Europe believes
that more public information means better participation in and greater
accountability of public bodies.

2. Regards Citoyens <http://www.regardscitoyens.org/qui-sommes-nous/> is a
civic association which promotes the opening of public data to secure
greater transparency of democratic institutions in France.

3. The proposed reform is to 1995 Security Law (*Loi n°95-73 du 21 janvier
1995 d'orientation et de programmation relative à la
sécurité<http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000005617582&dateTexte=20101122>
*).* *

4.* *The amendment would impact on the right of access to public information
granted under the 1978 Access to Administrative Documents
Law<http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006068643&dateTexte=20101122>
* *as modified by European Union Directive 2003/98/EC of the European
Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public
sector information<http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2003:345:0090:0096:EN:PDF>.
The EU Directive requires that governments to create “fair, proportionate
and non-discriminatory conditions for the re-use of [public sector]
information.” The European Commission is currently reviewing this Directive.
This case and the broader impact of this Directive on the fundamental right
of access to information should be carefully reviewed by the Commission.

5. The Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official
Documents<http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?NT=205&CM=8&DF=22/11/2010&CL=ENG>from
2009, not yet signed by France, requires that all requesters be
treated
equally and without discrimination. It is illegitimate under this and other
international standards to ask why someone wants information or what they
will do with it.

6. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that access to information
held by public bodies when these are monopolies is an inherent part of the
right to freedom of expression: information is needed to participate in
democratic public debate. See, *inter alia* *Társaság a Szabadságjogokért v.
Hungary (App no 37374/05), ECHR, 14 April
2009.<http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=849278&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649.>
*

7. Examples of online portals for accessing public data include www.data.gov,
www.data.gov.uk, www.data.gov.au, www.data.gov.nz.



For more information – in English or French - please contact:

*Victoria Anderica*, Access Info Europe, victoria at access-info.org

Office phone: +34 91 366 5344

Mobile: +34 606 592 976

*Helen Darbishire*, Access Info Europe
(www.access-info.org<http://ACCESS%20INFO%20MATERIALS/Press%20Releases/AppData/AppData/Local/Temp/www.access-info.org>
)

helen at access-info.org, mobile: +34 667 685 319

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