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The Principles of Open Government Data

December 9, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Over the weekend a couple of us here at OpenCongress met up with 28 other open government activists in Sebastopol, California to produce a set of principles for governments to follow in order to release their data in a way that is the most useful, valuable and open. The group came together around several shared beliefs: that a government’s data belongs to its citizens, that information becomes more valuable as it is shared and that open data promotes a more robust democracy. From there we set out to develop our eight principles of open government data.

Here’s what we came up with:

>Government data shall be considered open if it is made public in a way that complies with the principles below:
>1. Complete
All public data is made available. Public data is data that is not subject to valid privacy, security or privilege limitations.
>2. Primary
Data is as collected at the source, with the highest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms.
>3. Timely
Data is made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data.
>4. Accessible
Data is available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes.
>5. Machine-processable
Data is reasonably structured to allow automated processing.
>6. Non-discriminatory
Data is available to anyone, with no requirement of registration.
>7. Non-proprietary
Data is available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control.
>8. License-free
Data is not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and privilege restrictions may be allowed.
>Compliance must be reviewable.

Follow the links above for the flesh and details of the specific principles. We’re holding these pages open for further discussion, so if you have any suggestions, grab an account and put them up on the wiki.

The meeting was hosted by Carl Malamud and Tim O’Reilly with funding from the Sunlight Foundation, Yahoo! and Google.

The OG (Open Government) gang sign image above is provided by Shawn Allen of Stamen Design under a creative commons license.

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