Glossary / Basic definitions
Open Data is defined as stored data which could be made accessible in the public interest, and usually refer to Open Government Data, or Public Sector Information (PSI), although the term could also be used to inculde datasets from the private sector. Typically Open Data refers to statistics, geo data, maps, plans, environmental data and weather data in addition to materials of parliaments, ministries and authorities. Open Data features strongly in debates around transparency and access to information.
Issues of ownership and governance of Public Sector Information
"The governance and ownership of such datasets, has been under the scrutiny of civil society actors, including the business community, since at least the 1970s. The data that OGD advocates are interested in, and want opened for anybody to use, re-use and re-distribute, tends to be quantitative datasets (OKFN & Access-Info, 2010), examples of which include geospatial, statistical, environmental, organisational, transport, spending, cultural, archival, and company data. Some of these already exist as datasets that can be re-used although possibly at a prohibitive cost e.g. mapping data, whilst some are data that have not previously been re-usable including some that have not yet been universally digitised. An example of this latter category is data on allotments, which are small plots of land for individual cultivation at low rent, which local authorities in the UK have a legal duty to maintain 'adequate provision' of relative to demand." (Bates, 2012)
Freedom of Information Act
What is accessible is usable
Re-use / Share and share-alike
The fear that the release of public sector information will give rise to unduly harsh personal attacks / damaging criticism by the public, of mistakes made by public servants. This is presented as a major concern of governmental departments that hesitate to release data. Here we find the term useful in another sense: in the way that private interest is pushing for the release of government data, towards immediate monetisation.