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Sam Smith's picture

Large institutions tend to focus internally, with minimal regard to the external environment. Open Data becoming institutionalised is not different, and as a leading edge country in opening data, the UK is making the predictable mistakes first:

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Sam Smith's picture

Let's be clear: the Open Data movement is not about the pursuit of complete and unconditional openness. We know that it would be unwise to publish details of police patrol patterns, or the combination to the safe containing the crown jewels. We believe that fundamental reference data like ordnance survey maps, transport timetables, and company information should be freely available to all - information about objects, rather than information about people. Internationally, slightly different standards apply in different countries, but in the UK open data can be defined as "non-personally identifiable data produced in the course of an organisation’s ordinary business". However, between 'open data' and 'personal data' there is a large grey area, and inevitably the boundaries are sometimes blurry. Serious privacy issues usually arise when an institution sees individuals as objects. 

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Sam Smith's picture

We all remember the characteristics of the people we went to school with. In primary school, George was excellent at Music; Michelle aced Science in high school; Julian did that odd combination of college courses and had a problem with authority. Well, there's a national database that records all this information and more. The National Pupil Database (NPD, previously the School Census) contains over 400 variables, covers every year of a child’s education from nursery to A-levels, and anyone who attended a state school in the past ten years is included - there is no opt out. And now, the Department for Education wants to allow access to it.

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Sam Smith's picture

The UK Minister for Education, Michael Gove, today stated in Parliament that he would be moving forward his plans to open up the National Pupil Database, and announced a government consultation on the initiative. The Minister promised that "all requests to access extracts of data would go through a robust approval process and successful organisations would be subject to strict terms and conditions covering their handling and use of the data, including having appropriate security arrangements in place."

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