Consultation on the new draft code of practice on datasets

The Cabinet Office is consulting on a new code of practice on the new provisions in the Freedom of Information Act inserted by the Protection of Freedoms Act that enhance the right to data. These new provisions on datasets will be commenced in April 2013. The Code of Practice (datasets) will sit alongside the existing Section 45 Code of Practice on the Freedom of Information Act.

The public have always been able to request datasets under the Freedom of Information Act however, provisions relating to their disclosure and re-use conditions have developed in a piecemeal way. The aim of the new provisions in the Act is to consolidate the complex landscape around the release of datasets for use and re-use and for this new code to make public authorities aware of their new responsibilities, to reduce potential confusion and bring clarity to what is expected of public authorities undertaking their new duties.

This new draft Code of Practice (datasets) aims to make it clear as to what is meant by the terms set out in the new provisions in the FOI Act. For example, what is meant by “an electronic form which is capable of re-use” or a “re-usable format” for the purposes of the Act. Over the last few months, the Cabinet Office has prepared this draft alongside the Ministry of Justice, the National Archives and the Information Commissioners Office. As committed to in the Open Data White Paper, we are now holding an online consultation to hear your views and comments on where the code can be improved or expanded upon so it provides the best guidance possible to public authorities who will in future rely on it as they carry out their new duties.

The new draft code also outlines the licensing framework in which public authorities must use when making their datasets available for re-use. Together with the Open Government Licence, which the draft code encourages public authorities to use, and the Non-Commercial Government Licence, a new licence has been drafted for potential use by public authorities that have reason to charge for the re-use of the dataset they hold or produce. This new licence, it’s working title the ‘Charged Licence’ will form a suite of ‘specified licences’ provided for in the new datasets provisions of the FOI Act. The National Archives today published the licence in beta form and alongside the consultation for the new Code of Practice (datasets) and they are interested in receiving comments on the licence as to whether the simplified terms and conditions adequately meet the requirements of licensors and re-users alike, as well as feedback on the working title of the new licence.

The consultation ends on 10th January 2013. Responses can be submitted online or sent to

Comments on the beta licence should be sent to the Information Policy Team at the National Archives at by 10 January 2013.

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