Why do governments publish Open Data?

Mária Žuffová

18 Apr 2018, 4:30 p.m.
Auditorium 3

Maria offers a critical view on government’s motivations for publishing its datasets and explores how these different motivations might translate into different outcomes concerning public trust, participation, government accountability, but also the sustainability of these Open Data initiatives.

Many otherwise disparate countries, following the example of the US and UK, launched Open Data portals and published government data created or collected in different fields, in open formats. Political support to this new computer-mediated transparency came from democratic leaders representing all political spectrum but also from autocratic leaders.

Maria explores what drives this behaviour and why governments decide to adopt policies that limit their control over information. She proposes and tests four motivations for increasing access to government information through Open Data publication.

She argues that some governments might have a genuine interest in increasing their transparency to improve democracy. In this case robust political rights, free and pluralistic media, and independent and efficient police, prosecutors and judges would accompany a good performance in Open Data publication. However, governments might open their datasets up for more prosaic reasons too. They might aim to boost innovation, improve their reputation in front of their voters prior to the elections or ensure future access to the data in case of electoral loss. Last but not least, the proliferation of the Open Data initiatives might be a consequence of policy convergence.