Many hope for open data in Hessen

Experts support FDP’s push for the administration’s duty to provide data free of charge for everyone. Only one association raises concerns

The public administration should make traffic data, geodata, information about cultural works, scientific data and a lot of other information public for everyone free of charge – digitally. This idea is behind the “Open Data” principle, which should also be implemented in the state of Hesse.

This is the opinion of almost all experts – from the Chaos Computer Club to the Hessian data protection officer, from business associations to research institutes in the field of digitization. In a hearing in the state parliament, almost all experts agreed that the right to free data access should be regulated by law.

Association of towns and municipalities finds offers sufficient

Only one association rejected such a project: The Hessian Association of Towns and Municipalities came to the conclusion that “the information that was already publicly available was to be regarded as sufficient”. With that he was alone. A large majority shared the view of the Chaos Computer Club Darmstadt, which its representatives Yannick Bungers and Marco Holz formulated in their written statement: “The data sets collected by the Hessian administration are financed by society and collected for the benefit of the general public. Therefore, it should actually be a matter of course that these data are made available to society in line with the principle of ‘public money – public good’. “

The FDP has introduced a bill into the state parliament with which it wants to realize this goal. This set of paragraphs, which is based on the regulations of the federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was discussed at the hearing in Wiesbaden.

Provision free of charge

Experts and associations welcomed the principle that this is intended to create an obligation to provide machine-readable data free of charge. The idea that an open data coordinator should be named as the central contact person for the topic in every ministry also met with approval, for example at the Bitcom industry association.

Longer deadline suggested

The Hessian data protection officer Alexander Roßnagel did not raise any fundamental concerns, on the contrary. He found that the “informative transparency of the public sector” was to be welcomed. A quick introduction of open data would be gratifying from his point of view. However, in view of the administrative burden, Roßnagel seems to be too ambitious the one-year deadline set by the FDP.

The criticism focused on two points. On the one hand, there is no individual legal entitlement to the provision of the data. As a result, it remains unclear what the consequences will be if an office does not provide data, argued Ulrich Greveler from the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences.

Data treasure trove of the municipalities

On the other hand, Greveler and numerous other experts miss an “open data” obligation for the municipalities. “Municipalities manage the actual data treasure of the state”, stated Anne Schwarz, David Wagner and Bendix Sältz from the association D 64, which sees itself as a “center for digital progress”.

The Association of Towns and Municipalities, on the other hand, welcomes the fact that municipalities should not be obliged to do so. If they decide to provide data anyway, this must be remunerated in the opinion of the association’s managing director, Harald Semler. Because there is “a not inconsiderable administrative effort for the viewing, anonymization and setting of the data as well as the regular checking for up-to-dateness”.

“Slap in the face for the state government”

The FDP digital politician Oliver Stirböck was pleased with the broad approval. He described the hearing as a “slap in the face for the black-green state government”, which has so far been opposed to a general “open data” law.

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