(BBC) Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled his latest venture for the UK government, which offers the public better access to official data. A new website, data.gov.uk, will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use. The target is to kickstart a new wave of services that find novel ways to make use of the information. Sir Tim was hired by PM Gordon Brown in June 2009 to oversee the project.
(Technology And Internet News) The Peer to Patent project has already earned its place in history. It was explicitly cited as inspiration for the open government initiative in the Obama administration, which recently released a comprehensive directive covering federal agencies. It's encouraging to hear that a new pilot has started in Australia and has gathered a small community of volunteer patent art seekers. You
can check out the official site
and its Wikipedia page.
(News.com) Barack Obama, in his first official action as president, signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open government, a short document that declared, "We shall work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government." Beth Noveck was a principal contributor to the memorandum, and the first member of the Obama-Biden transition's Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform team, which advised the president-elect on ways to incorporate technology into his larger reform goals.
The Obama administration has officially unveiled its Open Government directive, a document that charges each federal agency with making high value data publicly available and with quickly coming up with formal open government plans. Among the major points of the directive (PDF), it:
Requires federal agencies to make a minimum of three "high-value" data sets available within 45 days.
Directs that within 60 days, the White House will launch a dashboard on Whitehouse.gov that will be used to hold each agency accountable for the contents of the directive.
Commits each federal agency to launching its own open government Web site.
Says that within 90 days, agencies will receive guidance from the federal Office of Management and Budget about creating challenges and contests for how best to use publicly available data.
And mandates that within 120 days, each agency will create an open government plan geared towards ensuring that the philosophies of openness, transparency, and collaboration are permanently "hardwired."
See also an interview with Beth Noveck, the Obama administration's deputy chief technology officer for open government, a principal contributor to the new directive.
(Google European Public Policy Blog) The value of open access to publicly funded data extends far beyond geographical or transport-related information. In the Netherlands, for example, we've combined freely available Central Statistics Bureau and European Central Bank information with search trends data to create a barometer for consumer confidence in a variety of industry sectors. And the combination of publicly funded epidemiological data sources with aggregated search query data has enabled us to launch the cutting edge Flu Trends product predicting the spread of an epidemic in 20 countries. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to get access to this information required to develop such cool, innovative and useful, services. Despite being public, open access to this data is not automatic, and complex licence agreements remain de rigueur. The good news is that the European Union understands the potential for innovation and economic growth that easy access to publicly funded information could unlock. It was also encouraging last week to see the UK government taking an important unilateral first step towards freeing public data: from April next year, a good number of the UK's Ordnance Survey maps will become freely available - and re-usable - online. This represents an important victory for the Guardian newspaper's laudable "Free Our Data" campaign which has been running for the last three years.
(BBC) Ordnance Survey map data will be freely available online to everybody from 2010, the Government has announced. The move will allow people to interpret public statistics about crime, health and education by postcode, local authority or electoral boundary. Currently, the geographical data is only available free of charge to small scale developers. Opening it up is key to the success of government plans to free its data via data.gov.uk, say the site's creators.
(Reuters) The Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. agency that regulates the telecommunications industry, is becoming more media savvy by joining popular networking sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. The agency, which is conducting a series of workshops to hear from the industry and public on what the FCC's national broadband plan should include, is also urging the public to vote on which topics are the most important.
(OUT-LAW News) A pioneering patent system being piloted in the US has been stopped from accepting new submissions. The Peer-to-Patent project harnessed web users' knowledge to improve patent quality but the project has been curtailed. It will no longer assess new patents, but will process those already on its books, which is expected to take until October. The system was launched two years ago as an attempt to harness the wisdom of web users to ensure that nobody was granted a patent monopoly on things that had already been invented. The service may be reinstated after a period of analysis, though. US President Barack Obama has named a supporter of the programme as the next head of the USPTO. David Kappos has been named as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO.
(OhMyGov!) Beth Simone Noveck's new book, Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful, could not be more relevant today as we observe the unfolding dynamics after Iran's disputed presidential election, where tech-savvy Iranians have turned to microblogging platforms and social networks to organize and send pictures and messages to the outside world in real time as events unfold. This serves as a powerful example of how new media tools can overcome government attempts at censorship and oppression.
(EUROPA) The Commission has reported on the impact of common EU rules on the re-use of public sector information (the PSI Directive) put in place in 2003. The Directive sets out how public sector bodies should make their information available for re-use in order to remove barriers such as discriminatory practices, monopoly markets and a lack of transparency. It has had a positive impact on the public sector information market. Commercial re-use of public sector information is now being encouraged by Member States, exclusive agreements in some Member States have been ended and charges for re-use have been lowered. However, the sector has not yet generated its full potential for the European economy. The Commission called on EU Member States to implement practical measures such as making it easier to get a license to re-use public sector information, to put an end to exclusive agreements, to identify information that could be reused and make it easily available, to ensure that EU rules have a positive impact on the economy. see the Communication on Re-use of Public Sector Information - Review of Directive 2003/98/EC and Staff working document.
(01.net) Dans le cadre d'un accord signé avec le Forum des droits sur l'Internet, sept juridictions en région parisienne lui transmettront des cas de litiges. Un procès, c'est beaucoup d'attente pour régler des problèmes parfois simples. Comme une transaction en ligne qui s'est mal passée ou une connexion à Internet qui laisse à désirer. Devant l'augmentation de ce type de litiges, plusieurs tribunaux ont décidé de se tourner vers le Forum des droits sur l'Internet (FDI) et son médiateur du Net en poste depuis 2004. La cour d'appel de Paris et l'organisme consultatif en matière d'Internet ont ainsi signé un protocole d'accord par lequel sept tribunaux proposeront aux justiciables de régler leurs litiges par l'intermédiaire du médiateur du Net, plutôt qu'à la barre.
(Washington Post) The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government. WhiteHouse.gov, envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve. Obama, for example, would like to send out mass e-mail updates on presidential initiatives, but the White House does not have the technology in place to do so. The same goes for text messaging, another campaign staple. see also Too Early to Criticize Obama's Tech Policy? (Wired) by Nicholas Thompson. The most legitimate complaint so far is that Obama has yet to appoint a CTO. Not only that, but the position appears to have been demoted. One big question right now is what happens with Obama's plans for an Open Government Directive in the first 120 days? This is supposed to be the master document that lays out all the ways that federal government can use transparency to improve democracy. The CTO is supposed to lead one of the three teams drafting this thing. The answer I'm hearing is yes: people at OMB (namely Vivek Kundra), the General Services Administration, and possibly OSTP (namely Beth Noveck) are picking up the slack. So we will get something.
(EDRI-gram) The EU funded European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) has issued its Position Paper on security features in European eID schemes, showing a large disparity between the various systems which might affect their usefulness. The paper is an analysis of 10 ID card systems already used in EU and 13 under development. The eID cards are presently used mainly in relation to tax declarations and other e-Gov services with some applications in the commercial sector as well, but their application will largely extend in the future. The study shows that Europe has no coordinated strategy to protect the private data stored on the cards which leads to their lack of interoperability and to reluctance in accepting them by potential users.
(Government Technology) Along with new positions such as the nation's first CTO, the Obama administration has created a new group, the TIGR (Technology, Innovation and Government Reform) Team. TIGR is dedicated to fostering innovation within government. As TIGR team member and Washington, D.C., CTO Vivek Kundra explains on the video, "One of the biggest problems of the federal government is that process has trumped outcome ... everyone is focused on compliance; nobody is thinking about innovation and how to drive change within the government." TIGR hopes to foster innovation to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs.
Members of the TIGR team have a variety of experience, coming from backgrounds in both the private and public sectors. Along with CTO Kundra, the team includes Beth Noveck, professor of law at New York Law School; Dan Chenok, senior VP and general manager of Pragmatics Inc.; Blair Levin, managing director of Stifel Nicolaus Research Team; and Andrew McLaughlin, head of Global Public Policy and Government Affairs for Google. Besides focusing on innovation, the TIGR team is also working to increase transparency in government. The team recently launched the Citizen's Briefing Book, an online program that allows citizens to put their proposals and ideas about government issues online. Noveck explains that, with the Briefing Book, the government "will be sure to get the best ideas for the beginning of the administration." The TIGR also wants to bring other innovative and cost-effective changes to government, such as creating mash-ups with government data and utilizing cloud computing. See YouTube
(BBC) A child protection database containing the contact details for all under 18-year-olds in England will be accessible to 390,000 staff, say ministers.
The ContactPoint database is intended to improve information sharing between professionals working with children. Children's Minister Baroness Morgan said parents would not be allowed to remove their children from the list. The government is also planning to set up another major child protection register for adults who work with young people. The Independent Safeguarding Authority plans to have a register of more than 11 million adults - representing about one in four of the adult population of England.
(New York Times) As the street protests went on, young Egyptians also were mobilizing and venting their anger over Gaza on what would, until recently, have seemed an unlikely venue: Facebook, the social-networking site. In most countries in the Arab world, Facebook is now one of the 10 most-visited Web sites, and in Egypt it ranks third, after Google and Yahoo. About one in nine Egyptians has Internet access, and around 9 percent of that group are on Facebook - a total of almost 800,000 members. This month, hundreds of Egyptian Facebook members, in private homes and at Internet cafes, have set up Gaza-related "groups".
(BBC) The unit set up to tackle child sex abuse in the UK has had to pay tens of thousand of pounds to internet firms for information, the BBC has learned.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has spent more than £170,000 since 2006. The money has gone to internet service providers (ISPs) which charge for their data. CEOP chief executive Jim Gamble said the situation was "ridiculous". The figure comes after a BBC request under the Freedom of Information Act
(New York Times) One of the many ways that the election of Barack Obama as president has echoed that of John F. Kennedy is his use of a new medium that will forever change politics. For Mr. Kennedy, it was television. For Mr. Obama, it is the Internet. "Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee," said Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. see also Blogged Down in the Past (Columbia Journalism Review).
(RAPID) The European Commission is launching an on-line survey to find out more about the actual experience of businesses and public purchasers with electronic public procurement ("e-procurement"). This will provide essential information for an evaluation which is taking place on the effective up-take of e-procurement across the EU. The deadline for responses is 18 December 2008.
(RAPID) Over the years the Secretariat-General, which is concerned to preserve the institutional memory of the Commission, has built up a collection of documents on horizontal institutional issues and on the intergovernmental conferences at which the founding Treaties have been revised. Some of these documents go back to the Communities' beginnings. Hitherto this collection has only existed on paper. Until now only a handful of privileged users, mostly within the Commission, have had access to the collection. These documents have been digitised in order to move from paper to electronic storage. Dorie means that we can open up access to our collection to external users interested in institutional issues, in particular students and academic researchers, journalists, pressure groups and think tanks.
(Times) Barack Obama launched the official website for his transition to the White House, inviting users to send in their ideas for the future of the country. Users can also blog, and apply for jobs in an Obama administration via the website. The website continues a tactic Mr Obama employed to such brilliant effect during his campaign: make people feel they have a stake in his strategy, while simultaneously galvanising an army of supporters and new donors, who were kept in almost daily contact with the campaign through e-mails and text messages.
(OPSI) This time last year OPSI produced a report marking the first two years of operation of the UK regime for public sector information (PSI) and tracking progress made to date. As with the first report, OPSI?s aim was to ensure that the legislation that underpinned the various UK tools and initiatives to deliver PSI services 'is recognised, understood and put into practice'. The Report highlights the key milestones and tracks the progress made by OPSI and the UK government over the past year.
(Europa) Services Contract for the Maintenance and Upgrade of the ePractice.eu Platform (SMART 2008-0105) (Deadline: 02/10/2008) The subject of the contract is to maintain, upgrade and run a world-leading good practice exchange scheme for online electronic services in the public interest across Europe building on the ePractice.eu initiative.
(Europa) Are you interested in governance and participation tools, policy modelling, opinion visualisation, mass collaborative platforms, large-scale societal simulation? You are invited to provide your comments, views and contributions on the Community on ICT for Governance and Policy Modelling by visiting the ePractice.eu website. See also: http://ec.europa.eu/egovernance.
(BBC) A US judge has removed himself from an obscenity trial he was overseeing after it emerged that his own website featured sexually explicit images. Federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski, 57, earlier suspended the trial of a businessman accused of distributing obscene videos. Mr Kozinski said he was not aware the explicit photographs and videos on his website could be seen by the public. Public access to his site has since been blocked. Mr Kozinski is a high-ranking and highly respected judge, and is chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. See also The Kozinski messbu Larry Lessig.
(Europa) The purpose of this online consultation is to gather information from as many sources as possible, including public sector content holders and commercial and non-commercial re-users (universities, NGOs) on their views on different aspects related to the implementation, impact and scope of the PSI Directive. The results of the online consultation will feed into the debate regarding the review of the PSI Directive. We are inviting interested parties to send us comments, suggestions and replies to the enclosed questionnaire by 31st July 2008 at the latest. More information(PDF).
(OECD) This is the question OECD is asking the public on YouTube at
www.youtube.com/futureinternet. YouTube users can share their opinion with
the leaders and opinion shapers attending the OECD Ministerial meeting on the
"Future of the Internet" in Seoul, Korea on 17-18 June 2008. The OECD is organising the Ministerial Meeting. Government ministers from more than 40 countries, global business and civil society leaders, academics and technical experts will meet with more than 1000 participants to forge broad principles that can provide an enabling policy environment for the Internet Economy.
(RAPID) The Commission has adopted a Communication to the European Parliament, Council and the EESC presenting ideas for the use of Information Society tools in the field of justice. The Communication deals with current and future initiatives which will help promote the European Justice Area. The objectives of e-Justice, which encompass both criminal and civil justice, are: The creation of a European portal designed to facilitate access to justice by citizens and businesses across Europe, and the reinforcement of judicial co-operation, on the basis of existing legal instruments. See also Questions and answers on the adoption of the e-Justice Communication
(RAPID) The Commission has adopted a proposal for a Council Decision on the establishment of the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS). The proposal aims at giving concrete tools to all 27 Member States for the exchange of easy-to-use information between Member States with different criminal legal systems, different languages, as well as different alphabets. ECRIS is a system based on decentralised information technology architecture, where criminal records data will be stored solely in databases operated by Member States. The system aims at making sure that the recipient receives information in a form which is immediately understandable.
(RAPID) The European Commission unveils a pilot project to ensure cross-border recognition of national electronic identity (eID) systems and enable easy access to public services in 13 Member States. Throughout the EU, some 30 million national eID cards are used by citizens to access a variety of public services such as claiming social security and unemployment benefits or filing tax returns. The Commission's project will enable EU citizens to prove their identity and use national electronic identity systems (passwords, ID cards, PIN codes and others) throughout the EU, not just in their home country. The plan is to align and link these systems without replacing existing ones.
(BBC) With Barack Obama moving close to victory in the Democratic presidential primary campaign, the internet has proved one of the key tools to his success. And it may well give the Democrats a big advantage during the Presidential race itself. The internet favours the outsider, and gives them the ability to quickly mobilise supporters and money online. The more nimble use of the internet by the Obama campaign in its early stages helped him overcome the huge initial lead of Hillary Clinton in the presidential nominating race.
(01net) La gendarmerie nationale met en ligne un site consacré à une affaire criminelle, afin de recueillir de nouveaux témoignages ou indices. Une première en France alors que cette pratique a déjà cours à l'étranger, en Allemagne par exemple. L'opération a reçu l'aval du juge d'instruction chargé de l'enquête, et le ministère de la Justice finance l'opération.
(Economist) At the end of April, without warning or consultation with the data-protection authority the Italian tax authorities put all 38.5m tax returns for 2005 up on the internet. The site was promptly jammed by the volume of hits. Before being blacked out at the insistence of data protectors, vast amounts of data were downloaded, posted to other sites or, as eBay found, burned on to disks.
(ZDNet France) Le système de dépôt de plainte par internet permettra à une victime de faire une déposition en ligne, qu´elle devra ensuite aller confirmer au commissariat ou à la gendarmerie. Le service ne gèrera, dans un premier temps, que les plaintes contre X pour des affaires mineures. Le ministère de l'Intérieur ne veut pas être accusé de mettre en place un système de délation en ligne ; il a donc prévu la parade : la victime souhaitant déposer plainte devra s'identifier, en donnant notamment son numéro de carte d'identité nationale. Cette fiche sera ensuite transmise électroniquement au commissariat le plus proche. La victime y sera convoquée pour confirmer ses dires, puis valider complètement la plainte.
(BBC) The Queen has launched her own channel on the video-sharing website YouTube. The Royal Channel will feature her Christmas Day message, and has recent and historical footage of the monarch and other members of the Royal Family. The launch marks the 50th anniversary of the Queen's first televised festive address in 1957.
(Democracy: A Journal of Ideas) by Beth Simone Noveck. How open-source technology can make government decision-making more expert and more democratic. The article argues that ordinary people possess extraordinary expertise that can improve the quality of government decision making; it also describes how democratic institutions can be reshaped.
(Guardian) The government has offered a £20,000 reward for the safe return of two missing CDs containing personal details of half the British population.
The Metropolitan police, which has been heading the search for the data, has asked thousands of government workers to check their desks and homes "in case the package or discs have turned up".
(Scotsman) POLICE hunting for the two missing data discs containing sensitive data about millions of people have searched rubbish tips in London, Scotland Yard said. The discs, containing 25 million child benefit claimants' personal details, went missing when a junior official sent them by courier in the internal mail from the Child Benefit office in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to the National Audit Office in London on October 18.
(vnunet.com) Westminster City Council has launched an SMS service to inform users of the nearest public toilet. Users text 'toilet' to 80097 and the service determines their location and automatically finds the nearest public toilet. The 'SatLav' system charges 25p for each text.
(ZDNet.co.uk) In the wake of the largest-ever data breach to hit the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office has criticised the apparent lack of technological safeguards in government departments and called for "privacy-enhancing technologies" to be built into future projects.
(BBC) The UK government's "basic competence" has been questioned by the Tories after the loss in the post of computer discs with 25m people's personal details on them. The child benefit data on them includes names, ages, bank and address details.
(BBC) New Zealanders have been given the chance to write their own laws, with a new online tool launched by police. The "wiki" will allow the public to suggest the wording of a new police act, as part of a government review of the current law, written in 1958. Police say they hope to gain a range of views from the public on the new law before presenting it to parliament. The wiki, one of the first of its kind in the world, is open to any internet user, police say.
(FT) The Central Office of Information (COI) which co-ordinates advertising for the British government has ordered its internet campaigns to be kept off user-generated pages on social networking websites to avoid marketing next to contentious or offensive content. The policy is designed to spare the British government the fate suffered by several large companies who pulled advertising from Facebook, the popular networking site, after their corporate campaigns were discovered running next to a page with details for the far-right British National party.
(Kablenet.com) A study commissioned by the Ministry of Justice has revealed that the signal for satellite technology for tracking offenders could be lost and that offenders could remove their ankle tags and leave them behind. The report says that, in ideal conditions, the technology is capable of finding the exact location of a tracked offender. But the signal could be distorted if an offender enters a building or a street with tall structures.
(ZDNet UK) Trials of electronic voting and vote-counting should be halted until the government can come up with a good reason for using the technology, the Electoral Commission has said. E-voting has been undergoing a series of trials in local elections across the UK, but the Electoral Commission, in a report, said that no further trials were necessary for the moment. The Electoral Commission suggested that the security of e-voting systems needed to be beefed up in any future implementations, and reiterated its support for a system of individual voter registration as a prerequisite to further trials.
(AP) The European Commission has posted a montage of sex scenes from European films on a video-sharing Web site, drawing criticism from some lawmakers who described it as "soft porn". The Commission launched its own channel on YouTube last week called EUTube, saying it wanted to spread messages about topics such as climate change and human rights. Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr said the sex scene clips - drawn from award-winning films such as "Amelie" and "Bad Education" - highlighted Europe's tradition of rich cinema.
(RAPID) The European Commission has launched a dedicated channel on YouTube to make its audiovisual material more widely available to the public. "This initiative reflects the Commission's commitment to better explain its policies and actions on issues which concern citizens across the EU - such as climate change, energy or immigration" said Margot Wallström, Vice-President for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy.
British democracy could be undermined by moves to use electronic voting in elections: the risks involved in swapping paper ballots for touch screens far outweigh any benefits they may have, says the Open Rights Group report.
(BBC) The government's Money Claim Online small claims service (MCOL) is being overwhelmed by claims for bank charges. So many people are using the website to reclaim overdraft charges that at times it has slowed almost to a standsti
(BBC) Government must do more to embrace Web 2.0 tools and communities, says a report. Commissioned by the Cabinet Office, the report looks at the novel ways the web helps people use information and how government can get involved. The report said that some public data, such as post codes, was already widely used but much more could be done to open up access to official information.
(Reuters) A British judge who said he didn't really understand the term "Web site" is fully computer literate and was merely trying to clarify complex evidence for the benefit of the court, the judiciary said. The remark by Judge Peter Openshaw during a trial on Wednesday made headlines around the world. "The trouble is I don't understand the language. I don't really understand what a Web site is," he told a London court during the trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the Internet. In a statement, the Judicial Communications Office did not dispute that Openshaw had been accurately quoted. But it said the remark by the judge, now in his fifth week presiding over the trial, had been taken out of context.
(BBC) Tony Blair has launched a Labour Party 'channel' on the YouTube website to communicate directly with voters. In a minute-long video on the channel the prime minister says the website will enable voters to receive 'unmediated' information. The channel also carries messages from Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Last year Tory leader David Cameron launched his own video weblog to try to get his message to young people.