The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the policy debates surrounding the commercial reuse of public sector information. It aims to provide an overview of these discussions in the light of the 2003 EU Directive on this matter and the UK's implementation in the form of the 2005 Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations. It also aims to argue that there is an inherent conflict of interest between the UK policy of making public sector information more freely available and the financial targets imposed by government on some of the key producers of this information.
The discussions presented in this paper draw on secondary academic and commercial research carried out in Europe and the USA. Primary analysis of the financial accounts of public bodies is also utilised to consider the potential conflicts of interest between revenue generation and information dissemination.
The evidence presented suggests that the sale of information collected by a number of key public bodies and the financial targets that are set by HM Treasury for them are a barrier to innovation within the private sector and to the wider development of an information society.
This research provides useful evidence for developers of UK information policies within the context of stimulating the development of a more vibrant information economy.
This is the first attempt to combine the financial analysis of UK public accounts with discussions about the commercial reuse of public sector information.
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