Opening Up the Data to Public or Closing it Even Further

We have submitted our comments on the Draft Law on Free Use of Public Data, which is currently put on the public hearing agenda. This Law should enable access to data produced in public administration in a machine readable format which allows further processing and data management.

We are very unsatisfied with the Draft Law, primarily because we consider that it should not have existed in this form, but that this matter could have been regulated by amendments to existing Law on Free Access to Information. The reason is the fact that the issues related to rules of procedure, right of appeal and penal provisions are incomparably better regulated by the Law on Free Access to Information and are providing much greater protection of citizens’ right to access to information, in comparison to this Draft Law.

The Draft Law does not define clearly enough what is the „machine readable data“ or who would be authorized to give an assesment in this case, which makes room for abuses. Exceptions to the Law (data that would be unavailable to the public) are too broadly set up and are including certain illogical choices, such as public service, scientific research institutions, museums and cultural institutions.

When it comes to the process of requesting information, the Draft Law prescribes that the citizen who submits the request must elaborate why. This provision (which does not exist in the Law on Free Access to Information) implies that there may be certain reasons that do not justify responding to the request. The Draft Law does not prescribe the obligation for the authority to which the request has been made to deliver an answer to the request, but only to publish requested information on their website, which is bad and makes it impossible to complain to the Administrative Court.

The authorities have until 2020 to provide “technical-technological” support for publishing information in machine readable format. This deadline is unacceptably long and the authorities should already be able to fulfill these conditions.

Other remarks refer to too long deadline for publishing information, undefined term of “possession of technical-technological conditions for publishing information in a machine format”, imprecise definition of inspection, small coverage of penal provision and superficial assessment of financial resources for implementing the law.

Our comments on the draft law can be downloaded here (only in Montenegrin).

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