Amending Law 109/2007 on the Re-Use of Public Sector Information (RO0022)
Action Plan: Romania, Second Action Plan, 2014-2016
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Ministry of the Information Society
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Justice CSOs: Association for Technology and Internet, Open Society Foundation
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Legislation & Regulation, Open Data, Public Participation
Early Results: Marginal
Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation
Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information, was implemented at national level by Law 109/2007 regarding the re-use of public information.
The law stipulates that re-use for non-commercial purposes of documents owned by the public institutions is free for all potential market participants and that public institutions must create conditions to facilitate access to the documents available for re-use, particularly by creating electronic lists and directories with the most relevant documents.
Since the first set of rules on re-use of public sector information was adopted in 2003, the amount of data in the world, including public data, has increased exponentially and new types of data are being generated and collected. This rapid technological evolution makes it possible to create new services and new applications, which are built upon the use, aggregation or combination of data. As such Directive 2013/37/EU amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information.
The public sector should facilitate the re-use of public information by making documents available in open, machine-readable formats, ensures interoperability with other information or analysis systems.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 4. Amending Law 109/2007 on the Reuse of Public-Sector Information
Amending Law no. 109/2007 on the Re-use of Public Sector Information.
• The agency will create a legal framework for the re-use of data and the publication of open datasets by implementing the provisions of Directive 2013/37/EU, amending the Directive 2003/98/CE on the Re-use of Public Sector Information, thus amending Law 109/2007. On the suggestion of civil society, proposals to create a legal framework for open data will also be taken into account.
Responsible institution: Ministry of the Information Society
Supporting institutions: Ministry of Justice, Association for Technology and Internet, Open Society Foundation
Start date: September 2014 End date: June 2015
This commitment proposes to update Law 109/2007 on the reuse of public-sector information, bringing it in line with the EU directive 2013/37/EU. The commitment aims to create a legal framework for the reuse of data and to make it available in open, machine-readable formats. Civil society in Romania has also requested that the government consider creating a legal framework for open data.
The government had substantially implemented this commitment by the midterm evaluation. The Ministry of the Information Society organized public consultations on the new legislation in March 2015, including a public debate at the ministry’s headquarters. At the end of July 2015, the executive approved an amendment to the legislation on the re-use of public sector information, and the law was sent to Parliament. Two prominent CSOs[Note 13: Open Society Foundation and the Association for Technology and Internet.] were concerned about the consultation process, as well as the omission of some open data provisions in the law. For more information, please see the 2014–2015 IRM midterm report.
End of term: Complete
Parliament adopted the law on 25 November 2015, and the Official Gazette published it on 3 December 2015 (Law 299/2015). According to the self-assessment report, the government considers this commitment only substantially implemented because the newly adopted law did not include civil society’s proposals related to open data.[Note 14: The main complaint is that although civil society proposed a specific legal framework related to open data this issue has not been addressed in the final form of the legislation.] However, as written this commitment is considered complete for two reasons: the amendment was adopted, and public consultation took place. Moreover, Article 7(1) of the new law gives guidance to public institutions on the reuse of data. If a public institution allows the reuse of its documents, the institution must send the documents to the requesting individual in their existing format and, when possible and adequate, in an open and machine-readable format with metadata. The article also states that the open formats and the metadata should follow the open data standards.[Note 15: The text of Law 299/2015 is available for free at http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/173591, through the national legislation portal.]
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
Civic participation: Did not change
Implementation of this commitment brings Romanian legislation up to date with the most recent EU directive on improving the integration of technology in information services. As such, this commitment marginally opened government with respect to access to information.
For instance, the new legislation affirms the public’s right to request information and documents from public institutions. More importantly, it legally establishes conditions under which public-sector institutions must provide requested information. Prior to this amendment, public institutions could easily deny information requests, and the requesting individual or agency had little recourse. The new legislation establishes a time frame, requiring that public institutions respond to requests within 20 working days (40 if complex information is requested). In addition, the law creates a legally defined appeals process. If a request is denied, there is a clear administrative process through which the decision can be contested.
Although these are important improvements to increase citizens’ rights to information, the legislation still includes a number of broad exceptions that deny access to certain information. While some exceptions are clear, such as those related to intellectual property rights, others are open to interpretation. For example, access can be denied if the person requesting information does not provide a legitimate reason for requesting a document. For this reason, the amendment has only led to a marginal change in actual government practice. It should be noted that there were several options for updating the law, and CSOs are dissatisfied by the government’s preferred solution, considering it a lost opportunity. The EU offered member states a minimum standard that should be implemented, coupled with a series of optional recommendations member states could choose to implement. According to civil society representatives, the Romanian government chose the easiest solution, the implementation of minimal standards, and ignored many CSO recommendations.
The government completed the commitment before the end of the commitment period and did not include it in the next action plan.