International Symposium, December 7th, 2001, Vienna, Austrian Academy of Sciences

This symposium is a contribution to the scientific discussion of social, political, legal and economic aspects of access to public sector information and its digitisation.

The public sector is the biggest single producer and owner of a large variety and vast amount of information, reaching from administrative and government information to a diversity of non-administrative contents: e.g. legal and regulatory norms, political information, statistical, financial, and economic data, public registers, geographic, meteorological and environmental data bases as well as scientific, technical, medical and cultural information.

This information is important for several stakeholders: for citizens and civic organizations, for private businesses and for different agencies within the public sector. In particular, it is an essential resource for the creation of value-added information products and services by the information industry. Advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) play a key role in facilitating access and constitute integral components of “e-government” and “open government” as public sector reform projects. Access to public sector information has therefore become a key issue of public policy and is stimulating the discussion and design of public sector information and IT policies. The discussion on EU level has resulted in a ‘Green Paper on Public Sector Information in the Information Society’.

Among the many topics around the design of public information policies, the questions of which public information should be accessible, to what extent and under which conditions, are of central importance. The symposium will address among others the following issues:

  • Which rights do/should citizens and businesses have regarding access to public sector information?
  • How should different aspects of access to public sector information be taken into account in the design of policies? (technical: e.g. infrastructure requirements; social: e.g. democratic rights, privacy; economic: e.g. costs and benefits; access for different user groups: e.g. citizens and businesses as end-users vs. information industry as intermediaries or producers of added value)
  • How to distinguish basic information and commercial information products/services based on public sector information? (incl. revised universal service concept)
  • How far do national information policies and current regulations differ among countries? (especially EU-legislation, i.e. results of the green paper consultation process and member states)
  • How can different approaches in the provision of electronic government services be balanced? (citizen vs. business-oriented approaches; supply vs. demand-oriented approaches)
  • Which issues arise from currently available information products based on public sector data? (different forms of provision, e.g. government vs. private sector; different models, e.g. exclusive license, competitive products).

The symposium language will be English.

The symposium is organised by the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, and co-funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Labour (BMwA) and COST Action A14 “Government and Democracy in the Information Age”. Kind support in programme planning was provided by Gerhard Wagner, Association of the Information Industry in Austria (VIW), Vienna, and Rudolf Lichtmannegger, Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKÖ), Vienna.