On the occasion of the International Open Data Conference in Madrid, Spain, civil society organisations have submitted the letter below to the Spanish Ministry of the Presidency and Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. If your organisation would like to sign the letter, please message @webfoundation, @civio or @access_info on Twitter so we can add your organisation. We hope this letter and the conference inspire fresh dialogue on Spain’s open government and open data commitments and move our shared ambitions forward.
September 7th, 2016.
Dear Honorable Ministers Sáenz de Santamaría, and De Guindos:
We, the undersigned organisations, want to congratulate you on the hosting of the Fourth International Open Data Conference. Such meetings provide a key opportunity to unite a global network of different actors – from government, business, academia, media and civil society – pursuing increased openness and transparency of the public and private sectors.
We call on you to continue the goodwill from the conference to strengthen openness in Spain, both in terms of data and public information. We recognise the advances that Spain has made on its transparency agenda but also note that there are some key areas where critical advances are needed:
– A genuine right of access to information: As a fundamental right in international human rights law,, Spain must ensure that there are no barriers to accessing public information. To achieve this, Spain must urgently improve the transparency law, in particular it must: remove the need for an electronic ID certificate and allow requests by email; remove the limitation on requesting “internal” or “auxiliary” documents (Article 18); and endow the Transparency Council with the powers of inspection and sanction.
– Full implementation of open data across government: Spain should join the over 30 national and local governments, including France, Italy and the UK, who have adopted the International Open Data Charter, which sets common and clear principles and a high bar for open data. It should also implement the Open Contracting Data Standard (like France, the UK and Italy) to provide open, accessible, joined-up data on government contracts with private companies.
– A truly open public corporate register and an open and public register of the beneficial owners of companies: The European Commission has proposed steps to give the public access to information on who ultimately controls and benefits from secret companies. Spain can advance these aims by ensuring its corporate register, “registro mercantil”, is freely available online as open data: free of charge to access, complete, downloadable in bulk, and open licensed by default.
– Transparency and civil society engagement in the Open Government Partnership: Spain must establish a permanent mechanism for civil society dialogue and inputs, as per the OGP commitment, and produce a national action plan based on OGP values. The Spanish government’s court case against the Transparency Council should be dropped and all OGP-related documents made fully transparent.
We look forward to supporting the Spanish government in these efforts and kindly request a follow up meeting with our Spanish civil society colleagues to discuss next steps.
Access Info Europe
Abriendo Datos Costa Rica
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Association for Promotion Sustainable Development (Hisar, India)
CAFSO-WRAG for Development
CIVICUS Affinity Group of National Associations
Climate Change Network Nigeria
Connected Development [CODE] (Nigeria)
The Engine Room
Federación Española de Sociedades de Archivística, Biblioteconomía, Documentación y Museística
Forum for Development
Global Peace and Development Organisation (Liberia)
NGO Federation of Nepal
Open Contracting Partnership
Publish What You Fund
Southwest Freedom of Information Act Network Nigeria
Universal Rights Network