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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Questionable Open Data

Years ago, a marketing personnel of an international company came to my agency, soliciting our subscribing to its legal materials for a royalty. Our interest was on intellectual property and we learned to our surprise that its package included materials generated by us, although we had never waived our intellectual property right. Should the public sector pay a private sector third party to access to works which were the results of intellectual effort of the former?

Some governments' closed data eg data sets on weather or travel have been made open believing that is what transparent governments can add more economic and social value. Does governments' Open Data policy genuinely benefit the ordinary public, or is it just trendy for accountable governments to do so to get popular support? Would Open Data include those with security and personal implications, and would governments keep them current?

Released raw data is not meaningful to the ordinary public, and without standardized protocols including multilingual key words, data sets may not be easily accessible to anyone. Furthermore, only some technical specialists would have the capacity to interpret and apply the Open Data to design and deliver value propositions that meet the needs of their target customers. Apart from economic and digital divides, would the Open Data community create a new data divide?

Once governments and stakeholders have identified and recognized the Open Data movement, would they work in concert to promote the public good such as improvement to local social service delivery, or would governments just leave it to data entrepreneurs to exploit their business models deriving from Open Data? Or should all take a wait-and-see approach and make up as we move along? How clear is the Open Data vision - have we begun with the end in mind?

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