Consultation - Code of Practice (Datasets)
Datasets Code of Practice Consultation Summary
In November last year the Transparency team launched an on-line consultation seeking view on the new datasets code of practice that will be issued under Section 45 of FOIA.
Specifically, the code and consultation sought to make public authorities aware of their new responsibilities under the new FOIA ‘datasets’ sections. In short the datasets sections require all public authorities to make their datasets available to applicants in an electronic form that is capable of re-use. Where appropriate, public authorities must publish requested datasets as part of their publication schemes.
The consultation provided the opportunity for people affected by the new sections to let us know whether the draft code provided the right level of guidance and if there was anything else we needed to cover to make the code as comprehensive and as useful as possible. We ran the consultation on data.gov.uk and allowed users to simply leave comments against section of the code. Respondents were also allowed to e-mail responses to the Transparency Team.
The consultation closed on 10 January and received over forty separate responses from a broad representation of open data advocates, local government and the wider public sector.
The responses were on the whole positive, most of the issues raised were around providing additional clarity on key points such as exceptional data charging circumstances and defining ‘reasonably practicable’ timescales.
Transparency Team, Ministry of Justice, The National Archives and Information Commissioner’s Office are currently working some of the issues raised into a final iteration of the code which will be presented for ministerial clearance in March.
We hope to commence the code alongside the new sections of the Freedom of Information Act later this year. In addition the Information Commissioner’s will be publishing some supplementary guidance against key issues rasised in the code.
About this Consultation
In May 2010, the Government set out its commitment to formally establish an enhanced right to data. By amending the Freedom of Information Act by means of section 102 in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, a new statutory duty was set out which means that public authorities must publish datasets for re-use and where reasonably practicable, do so in a re-usable format.
Please note: This consultation is not a revision of the existing code. The purpose of this consultation is to provide views on the guidance relating to datasets only. The current guidance in the existing code remains valid and will do so after this consultation.
About the Code of Practice
It is important that a new Code of Practice is made so that public authorities know exactly what is expected of them as regards to the amendments to the Freedom of Information Act concerning datasets. The proposed new Code of Practice (datasets) was drafted in conjunction with the Cabinet Office, The Information Commissioners Office, The National Archives, and The Ministry of Justice and sets out what we mean by the terms in the new sections of the FOI Act. It aims to make public authorities aware of their new responsibilities and intends to reduce confusion and bring clarity and completeness for local authorities. We are now looking for your views as to whether the draft code provides the right level of guidance and if there is anything else we need to cover to make this code as comprehensive and as useful as possible. We hope as many public servants and potential users of public data as possible will share their views online.