NSW goes 'open by default' for data

State agencies will operate under a regime of "open by default" for data sets under a policy issued by the New South Wales government this morning.

The NSW Government Open Data Policy, unveiled today, states that "Agencies start from a position of data openness, with the prerogative in favour of data release" unless there is a "specific, overriding" reason to not release data, in accordance with the NSW Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

That legislation states: "There is a presumption in favour of the disclosure of government information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure."

Cases where data should not be subject to public release or released only in part includes data that may contain personal information, be subject to legal privilege, breach confidentiality requirements (such as contractual obligations) or where release of data would be against the public interest.

Data and their metadata are to be published online at data.nsw.gov.au in an "easily discoverable and searchable" format. As of time of publication, data.nsw.gov.au was not functioning.

Under the policy, government agencies have been instructed to prioritise "high-value" datasets. The preferred licence for data will be the CC BY AU Creative Commons licence – freely usable including by commercial organisations as long as attribution is included – although the policy allows for data to be provided "at a reasonable price".

"Open data is at the heart of open government and we have developed a principles-based approach to the way public sector agencies provide access to their information," finance minister Andrew Constance said in a statement.

"We have engaged with the community, industry and the research sector to deliver a policy that drives transparency, accountability and better service delivery to the people of NSW."

The government will create an implementation plan for the new policy framework.

Open data is one of the pillars of the NSW government's ICT strategy, which was launched in 2012. The state government in September outlined the government's implementation progress.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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