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UK named most ‘open and transparent’ government in the world

The UK government has been named the most open and transparent in the world for the second year running by the World Wide Web Foundation.

Founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the web, the World Wide Web Foundation publishes the Open Data Barometer, which aims to uncover the prevalence and impact of open data initiatives around the world.

Assessment of 86 countries for how easy their governments make it for state information to be obtained and analysed found the UK was the most open. The US and Sweden came second and third in the rankings, followed by France and then New Zealand.

"Despite coming top of the rankings, the UK has a long way to go. The release of map data is something where the UK has lagged behind, and you'd think postcodes would be part of the open structure of the UK, but they're not," Sir Tim told the BBC.

"The Post Office holds them as being a proprietary format. So, ironically, just a list of places in the UK is not available openly, for free, on the web.”

One of the key initiatives that puts the UK at the top of the rankings is the website, launched by the Labour government in 2010. Later expanded by the Coalition, files showing £80bn of government expenditure have been opened up to public scrutiny.

The foundation says that governments worldwide have acknowledged the potential of open government data to reduce corruption, increase transparency, and improve government services, yet over 90% of the 86 countries surveyed do not publish key datasets in open formats.

Almost half of the G7 countries are still not publishing the key datasets they promised to release in 2013, despite pledges by the G7 countries to boost transparency by making government data ‘open by default’.

However, Parliament's Digital Democracy Commission, set up by the speaker of the House of Commons, has warned that transparency is not the same as true accountability.

"There's actually a big difference between dumping data that's not easily understandable and actually having open data that clever people can use to help you and me find out the information they want about the subject they want," said Meg Hillier, a Labour MP who sits on the Commission.

"One of the things that MPs are trying to get government to do is to make sure data is released in usable formats. Just dumping data is not the answer, it ticks a box but it doesn't do the job."

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Richie   20/01/2015 at 11:56

They got one thing right they are the most transparent government in the world simply because the people can see right through them

Shammer   20/01/2015 at 12:07

Mate I'll swap your government for the rubbish we have in murky and covered in mire you couldn't clean them with a Karcher high pressure hose!....Rupert Murdoch's puppet government selling out a Nation and it's people!....swap you anyday!

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