Re-use of information and open data

The re-use of information is the right of users enabled by the provisions of the Right of Access to Information Act of 2013 and further reinforced by the Amendments to the Act of 2015, upon the adoption of the EU Reuse Directive. It is about information held by public authorities, which are suitable for re-use as registers, databases, records or other types of information, so that they can be used by computer for the development of applications. The re-use of information and the open data, published on the internet free of charge for free use to all, are drivers of the European digital market.

Reuse means the use of information of public authorities by natural or legal persons for commercial or non-commercial purposes other than the original purpose for which the information was generated within the framework of a statutory or other regulation of a given scope of work, or within the activities that are normally considered as a public affairs. (RAIA, Article 5, paragraph 6).

The public authorities are obliged to ensure the exercise of the right of access to information and the re-use of information. The list of public authorities is available at tjv.pristupinfo.hr.

The Role of the Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner is in charge for dealing with appeals concerning requests for re-use of information, inspection supervision and handling of remostrances. Also, the Commissioner regularly carries out the monitorings of disclosure of dana for re-use. The monitoring reports are available here:

https://www.pristupinfo.hr/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/AI-1-2017-Otvoreni-podaci-TJV-objava-informacija-za-ponovnu-uporabu-II.-dio.pdf

https://www.pristupinfo.hr/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/AI-6-2016-Otvoreni-podaci-TJV-objava-informacija-za-ponovnu-uporabu-I.-dio.pdf

Reporting to European Commission

The Information Commissioner for submits the report on the implementation of the EU RE-use Directive to European Commission’s. The report is available here:

http://www.pristupinfo.hr/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Reuse-report-Croatia-2017.pdf

Manual on Reuse of Information and Open Data for Public Authorities

The Information Commission has published the manual named ÔÇ×Open Data for All: Information Use Manual for Public AuthoritiesÔÇť, which fully and comprehensively elaborates the responsibilities of public authorities to ensure the re-use of information and disclosure of open data.

See also the infographics about open data (HR)

Pursuant to Article 28 paragraph 1, for the purpose of encouraging and facilitating the reuse of information, the public authorities are ensure to make the information available for re-use, together with metadata, in a machine readable and open form, in accordance with open standards.

The basic feature of re-use is the form of information – they must be in machine readable form, open format and in accordance with the open standard (Article 5, items 10, 11, 12 and 13).

Machine-readable form is a file format structured so that a program application can easily identify, recognize and extract specific data, including individual data and their internal structure. The PSI Guidelines and Guidelines of the European Commission recommend forms of CSV, JSON; XML, RDF, and others.

An open format is a file format that is independent of the platform used and accessible to the public without any limitations that would prevent reuse.

The open standard is a written standard, setting the detailed specifications of the prerequisites for ensuring interoperability of the software.

Data for reuse are marked with metadata, which are the data describing the characteristics of a source. They can describe one datum, entire data set, or just part of the whole.

Re-use of information is being achieved by ensuring the availability of information in two ways:

  • by proactive publicising of data for re-use on the website of the public authority or on the open data portal;

  • by submitting a request for reuse of information.

Open Data Portal is a data node for collecting, categorizing and distributing public sector open data. The portal represents a sort of metadata catalogue that allows easier search of open data (Article 5, paragraph 13)

The Open Data Portal of the Republic of Croatia https://data.gov.hr/ contains data sets for re-use by public authorities together with metadata, and was launched in March 2015. The portal is maintained by the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society. Through the portal, users can propose the release of a particular datasets. The portal is linked to the Open Data Portal https://data.europa.eu/

The information in a format that allows reuse may also be obtained by submitting a request for re-use of the information to the public authority. The public authority should decide upon the submitted request within a deadline of 15 days. In the case that there are lagal restrictions for providing the information from Article 30, Paragraph 1 of the RAIA, the public authority shall reject the request (without conducting the test of proportionality and public interest). The decision on re-use also stipulates the reimbursement of costs for re-use of information, in accordance with the critera that are prescribed by a special decree.

An appeal may be filed against the decision of the public authority. If there are the questions concerning the handling of request that are not specifically regulated by the Chapter VI. of the RAIA are resolved by application of the other provisions of the Act.

The public authorities are not obliged to produce, adapt or exclude parts of information if this requires disproportionate spending of time or resources, and the public authorities may not be required to continue updating, upgrading and storing information for the purpose of re-use.

Exchange of information between the public authorities for the purpose of carrying out activities within their scope does not represent reuse.

When providiing the access to information for reuse, the public authority may set conditions for reuse of information. The conditions should not unduly restrict the possibility of reuse and should not be used to restrict market competition.

In principle, the public authority shall provide the user with unrestricted, free and open-source data.

In justified cases, the public authority may set out the conditions for re-use, but ensuring that such conditions do not carry unjustified limitations regarding re-use. The conditions for re-use may not be utlised to restrict competition, nor thay can be discriminatory regarding same or similar type of information or regarding the purpose of re-use (commercial or non-commercial).

The public authority is obliged to publish on its website the licenses to be applied to its information, or links to such permissions, in accordance with standard open licenses or by the Ordinance referring to the same standard open permits.

Types and contents of licenses that set out the conditions for re-use are established by the the Ordinance of the Minister of Public Administration, in accordance with standard open licenses, as recommended by the PSI Directive.

A public authority may reuse its own information as a basis for commercial activities that do not fall within the scope of its public affairs under the same conditions as other users.

Public authorities are obliged to publish open data or provide information for reuse under the new Croatian license – Open License.

Since the end of July 2017, the Republic of Croatia has entered a circle of European countries that have their own license (license) for the publication of open data, or to provide information for reuse on user’s request. Earlier, in line with the possibility provided by the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information, some countries(such as United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy) have adopted their own open licenses, with an open option of using standard open licenses such as Creative Commons license.

The Ordinance on the Types and Contents of Permits Determining the Conditions for the Re-use of Information, issued by the Minister of Public Administration (Official Gazette 67/17 of 12 July 2017) established the types of permits to be used when opening data or when allowing the reuse of information by request. The Ordinance also laid down the conditions for issuing the Croatian open license. You can look at the text of the Ordinance and the associated open license here.

Application of License

In summary, the Ordinance provides that all datasets published by public authorities as open data, or provided by the the request of a user (pursuant to Article 29 of the RAIS), contain an open license.

Exceptionally, in justified cases, and with regard to the type of information or manner of creation or purpose of gathering information, the public authority may determine the conditions for reuse under its own license or under standard open licenses (other permits). The public authority must take into account the legal provisions which require that re-use must be made available without restriction, for free use and in open format (Article 31, paragraph 1 of the CPD, Article 3 of the Ordinance). The conditions for re-use should not unjustifiably limit the possibility of reuse, or to be used for the purpose of restricting competition (Article 31 ┬ž 2 ZPPI), or to be discriminatory in respect of the type or purpose of the use of information (Article 31 ┬ž 3 ZPPI). Thus, the public authority may use licenses that do not comply to an open permit only exceptionally, which is subject of review of the Information Commissioner in the appeal procedure or by remonstrace initiated by user.

The Open License is published in Croatian and English languages on the Open Data Portal, on the web site of the Ministry of Administration and on the web site of the Information Commissioner.

In terms of content, the open license generally coincides with the CC-BY license or the aforementioned national open licenses.

What an open license allows to user?

Open license allows the users to re-use of information and metadata for commercial and non-commercial purpose, and in particular:

  • reproduction, distribution and making data available to third parties
  • customizing the data and linking it with the proprietary and the third-party data in order to create new datasets
  • exploiting data by integrating it into internal and external business processes, products and applications within public and non-public electronic networks.

In other words, users can freely use data for whatever purpose they want, give data to third parties, link them to other data, or use them as a base for business processes, products and applications.

Under the open license, the only obligation of the user is to cite the source (eg the body of public authority or a specific source statement as specified by the public authority body that created the information) and the date of the download or the latest change. If the data does not contain a source statement and the date of the last change, the user is obliged to indicate that the data is used with an open license, and to provide link to the open license, and to the published information (if it is published).

The user is not allowed to use data (eg. create a product or an open-access application) in a way that would indicate that a product or application was made by a public authority.

Obligations of public authorities

The public authority body is obliged to:

  • publish on its web site an open license or link to the license together with other information on exercising the user’s rights for re-use of information (Article 6 of the RAIA, Article 2, paragraph 5 of the Ordinance)
  • Mark its data by open permission through a source statement (name of public authority body, link to published information, open license sign, open source link) and specify date of last change. Public authority should attribute the already published dana with an open license.

The body of the public authority must not:

  • provide the same information under different permissions
  • put users in an uneven position
  • unjustifiably limit the possibility of reuse if it is using other licenses

Example of source statement:

The work “List of public authorities”, whose author is the Information Commissioner is conceded ┬áunder the Open License – The Republic of Croatia.

It is based on the work at http://tjv.pristupinfo.hr/.

Date last modified: in real time.

The basic principle of re-use is the ban on discrimination – re-use information is available to all applicants at the same fee and under the same conditions.

The public authority can not, by contract or other agreement or decision, grant the applicant such reuse of information that would prevent the re-use of such information by other users, nor may it restrict the provision of information to a certain number of users (Article 34, paragraph 1) .

Pursuant to the PSI Directive, it is possible, in certain cases, to grant the right to exclusive use when it is necessary to contract or authorize a third party to use information for the provision of certain public services or services in the public interest.

Such contracts or decisions granting exclusive rights of re-use of information shall be published by the public authority on its website and submitted within 15 days of the conclusion or adoption of the Information Commission which maintains publicly available records of exclusive rights and periodically verifies the justification of the reasons for the approval exclusive right every three years.

The content and manner of keeping records of exclusive rights for re-use shall be governed by the Ordinance issued by the Minister of Administration:

  • The Ordinance on the content and manner of keeping records of exclusive rights for re-use of information (OG 20/16)

In accordance with its statutory authority, the Information Commissioner, invites public authorities to submit the decisions on assigned exclusive rights for re-use and the contracts on exclusive rights they have entered into with third parties.

The record of exclusive rights for re-use of information (.xls)

Submission of request

In the request for re-use of information, the applicant must indicate (Article 29, paragraph 1 and Article 18, paragraph 3):

  • the name and seat of the public authority to which the request is submitted,
  • the name and surname and address of the applicant’s natural person, or the company or name of legal persons and its headquarters
  • the information which applicant wants to re-use, including the format of information
  • the mode of receiving information
  • the purpose of using the information (commercial or non-commercial purpose)

An application may be submitted in writing, including e-mail, or orally. The public authority shall act upon the request for re-use via electronic communications means, whenever possible and appropriate (Article 29, paragraph 3)

Deciding upon request

The public authority shall decide on the request for re-use of the information by a decision within 15 days from the date of the submission of a formal request.

The decision must contain the type of license that sets out the conditions of use and the amount and manner of calculating the costs. Types of licenses are established by the Ordinance issued by the Minister of Public Administration, and the criteria for calculating the cost are established by the Government Decree. The public authority will reject the request for reuse of information by decision if the required information is subject to the limitations, or if the request relates to the information pertaining to the reasons set out for the denial of  information referred to in Article 15 of the Act:

  • confidential statistical information, in accordance with the law,
  • information for which the user should prove the existence of a legal interest,
  • parts of information that only contain logos, coats of arms or labels,
  • information held by bodies providing public radio, television and electronic media services,
  • information held by educational and scientific research institutions, including organizations established for the purpose of transferring of research findings, schools and institutions of higher education, apart from the libraries of higher education institutions,
  • Information held by cultural institutions, except libraries, museums and archives,
  • information that are not collected for the purpose of carrying out a public job.

Regarding the above limitations, unlike the procedure for requesting access to information, no test of proportionality and public interest is carried out.

Protection of users

Against the decision to refuse or reject the request for re-use, the applicant may file an appeal to the Information Commissioner, and against the decision of the Information Commissioner there is a possibility to file a claim with the High Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia. The rules of procedure are the same as in the case of filing an application for access to information.

The information for re-use published on the web site of public authority or on the open data portal (open data) are free of charge and accessible to everyone. The public authority can not charge the fee for open data.

When providing information for reuse on the basis of a request, the public authority may only charge marginal costs, or the actual material costs incurred due to the reproduction, providing and delivery of information, in accordance with Criteria referred to in Article 19, paragraph 3 of the RAIA, which are being applied to delivery of information on the basis of request for access to information. Criteria are issued by the Commissioner (NN 12/2014).

The public authority may charge the costs over marginal costs only in two cases (Article 32 of the RAIA).

  • if it is a body of public authority that is predominantly financed from its own revenue or
  • If the user’s request refers to the reuse of those information from which the public authority covers the costs of their collection, production, reproduction and publication, or in other words, finances the collection and maintenance of information by their dissemination

In such cases, the public authority is required to determine the price list for reuse of information in accordance with the criteria established by the Government Decree, which must be objective, clear and verifiable. In accordance with the principle of transparency, the public authority should publish criteria and price list its web site.

Subordinate legislation

  • Ordinance on the content and manner of keeping records of exclusive rights to reuse information (OG┬á 20/2016)

The Ordinance regulates the content, form and manner of keeping the Records of Exclusive Rights for Reuse of Information led by the Information Commissioner, which contains information on decisions and contracts (agreements) granting public authority the right to use information exclusively to natural or legal persons. The public authority is obliged to submit such decisions and contracts to the Information Commission within 15 days from the date of the enactment or conclusion.

  • Ordinance on the types and contents of licenses determining the conditions for reuse of information (OG 67/17)

The Ordinance prescribes the use of a National Open License (OL) for providing information for reuse or for reuse of open data. Exceptionally, public authorities may be allowed to create their own license or to use international standard licenses. Open licenses can be downloaded at http://data.gov.hr/otvorena-dozvola.

  • Decree on the costs of re-use of information (OG 87/18)

Ovom Uredbom utvr─Ĺuju se na─Źin i kriteriji za izra─Źun naknade tro┼íkova ponovne uporabe informacija, opravdani tro┼íkovi koji se uzimaju u obzir pri utvr─Ĺivanju cjenika i izra─Źuna naknade tro┼íkova te provedba revizije na─Źina izra─Źuna naknade tro┼íkova na godi┼ínjoj razini.

Open Data Policy

At its 107th session held on 19 July 2018, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted The Open Data Policy, which represents the strategic direction for the further development of the policy of openness and transparency of public administration, through which it intends to create and develop a stimulating environment for opening data of public authorities and their reuse to create new social and economic values.

Open data represent the data generated by public authorities, which use for commercial and / or non-commercial purposes may create added social or economic value (applications, scientific research, etc.). On the one hand, open data contributes to the transparency of the public authorities, strengthens their public accountability and reduces the risk of corruption. On the other hand, the data generated by the public sector represent a valuable resource for the development of innovative services and value-added products, which are incentives for the development of the economy, ie the creation of new jobs and the promotion of investments in data-based sectors. They enable the creation of competitive advantages, the development of innovations and new jobs.

The policy represents the statement of the commitment of the Republic of Croatia’s to open data principles and to implementation of European legislation on the reuse of public sector information, which requires from Member States to ensure maximum openness of data on legal basis, and their quality and accessibility, based on the the principles of non-discrimination and minimum cost.

The Coordination for Implementation of Open Data Policy, formed by the representatives of the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society, the Ministry of Public Administration, the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for NGO’s is currently preparing a proposal for the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Open Data Policy for the period 2018-2020, which is to be adopted by the Council for State Information Infrastructure. Adoption of the Action Plan for the Implementation of Open Data Policy is expected by the end of September.