Drawing Up a New Legal Ecosystem for Open Data to Improve Citizen Participation and Collaboration

William Gilles, Irène Bouhadana


[extract] It may seem straightaway paradoxical to deal with the legal framework of the public data reuse in a research work analyzing citizen participation and collaboration in promoting open government. If there is no doubt that public data reuse is a central issue of open governments, a priori, this policy falls under the third requirement of the open government, namely, transparency. Yet, this assertion shall be qualified since we consider that the right to re-use public information does not only pursue the objective of transparency in public administrations, but that it has above all for end to favor the flow of information.

This one is a requirement to favor a citizen participation and collaboration that is effective and efficient. A quality distribution of the information is a requirement for a public-spirited debate or to enabling the citizenry to participate in the co-construction of the law. Indeed, citizens cannot participate or collaborate without a full knowledge of the facts. In this respect, transparency is a requirement, but it required also an efficient flow of the information disclosed by governments and public administrations. In the same way, companies cannot bring their participation or their collaboration to the digital economy, and thus to the development of the society, if they cannot easily reuse the public information that should be disclosed in an open government. In this respect, companies’ participation and collaboration will be, for example, in the service of the quality, the effectiveness and the efficiency of public services by developing apps that analyze data opened by public administrations. This analysis helps improve public policies.

For these reasons, analyzing the legal framework of the public information reuse is essential to understand the restrictions to citizen participation and collaboration, and, on the contrary, to think how ensuring an effective distribution of the public information that is disclosed by governments. That last requirement is essential because it enables citizens, civil servants, or companies to better participate and collaborate. From this point of view, it is crucial to examine whether governments should provide a free access to their data. To put it in another way, can we


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