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We need accessible platforms and open licenses for our data!

2013-02-06 23:26:00, 46halbe

Joint statement: Finally setting the standard to “open”!

On August 8th, 2012, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior announced its intention to build an open government data portal to make national information and data freely available for use by citizens.

Up until now, a lot of the relevant datasets have still not been made available or at least are not released under an open license. The German open data and open government community (here undersigned) put together a (sample-)list of relevant datasets that we are requesting to be released in accordance with the Open Definition. As it stands right now, the community fears a watering down of the open government idea may be the only effect of the platform. [3]

In an open letter, representatives of the German Open Data community outline why the federal data platform ( is not acceptable in its currently planned form.

The reasons for our current criticism are as follows:

The chosen license model [4] for the portal is a custom solution that does not conform to internationally recognized standards [5]. The portal, as seen so far, is lacking provisions for usability and security. Furthermore, there are no visible efforts to motivate users to reuse the data provided.

The custom licence model cuts Germany off from the open data pool

Major problems with applying a custom license to the data in question is that unfamiliarity with a new license discourages reuse, as developers and users must seek additional advice before risking to work with the data. Moreover, the most interesting and useful applications developed with open data often require data from numerous sources to be combined – this is why interoperability (such as is possible between some of the approved open licenses listed above) is so important.

What needs to happen?

The success of the platform and the entire open government data strategy of Germany depends on the publication of government data that is truly open. The current approach risks devaluing the concept of open government.

This is why we are making the following requests from

  1. Data should be made accessible according to the ten principles of open data;
  2. Recognition and adherence to true open government (data) and open and explicit licences;
  3. Data should be open by default and closed only in justified exceptions;
  4. Civil law standard licensing instead of administrative law terms of use and abandonment of legal control over single datasets;
  5. The release of relevant and meaningful major datasets, rather than unimportant information;
  6. Marketing of the platform as the central repository for public data in the country and communication of its importance and activity;
  7. Establishment of a central and authoritative clearing house for data with authority to reprimand institutions if necessary.

Government data means that administrations govern it, not that they own it.

Opening government data will only be a success if unrestricted use is possible and actively encouraged. The platform should have model character and win support of all actors, including those possibly reusing the data. This is only possible by reaching an advanced state in usability, interfaces, security, accessability and openness. In its current state, the platform is far from these goals which is why the “community” cannot in good faith put its support behind it yet.

Representatives of the “German Open Data Community”


Initial Signers:

Daniel Dietrich, Open Knowledge Foudation Deutschland e. V., Vorstandsvorsitzender

Daniel Lentfer, Mitinitiator des Hamburgischen Transparenzgesetzes

Mathias Schindler, Wikimedia Deutschland e. V.

Boris Hekele, e. V., Mitgründer

Lavinia Steiner, Digitale Gesellschaft e. V., stellvertretende Vorstandsvorsitzende

Markus Beckedahl,

Christian Heise, Initiative, Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e. V.

Christian Horchert, Open Data Network e. V., stellvertretender Vorstandsvorsitzender

Sören Auer, Koordinator des EU-Forschungsprojektes zu Linked Open Data LOD2

Michael Hirdes, Chaos Computer Club e. V.

Holger Drewes,


Please sign!



[1] Feb, 4th 2013: Open Gov Germany: German government screws up open data

[2] Feb, 6th 2013: European Public Sector Information Platform: Criticism Mounting Before German Data Portal Launch