Headlines: September 7th, 2000

The E-Minister Patricia Hewitt has announced that publishing and Internet businesses should be allowed to make better use of Government information.The announcement follows the Government’s Review of the Knowledge Driven Economy as part of the spending review.

Such businesses will be able to repackage and re-present Government information, such as about health, house prices, schools performance tables, crime, census results, navigational charts for shipping, maps and meteorological data.

The Government says that its information resources are the largest in the UK – and should be widely available at reasonable prices so that they can be used for the full benefit of the UK economy.

The new plans include a new on-line licensing service being set up by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), called Click-Use-Pay. More generally, there is to be a simplified system of licensing and pricing for Government information.

All government bodies will also be put under pressure to make known what information they have, by creating Information Asset Registers linking to an ‘inforoute’ website being developed by HMSO.

As well as allowing the private sector more access to Government information, departments are also to be allowed to continue to develop value-added services charging market prices provided this can be achieved on a level playing field with outside agencies.

The Report on the Review of Government Information also recommends that public sector copyright owners other than the Crown such as local authorities and Non-Departmental Public Bodies review their charging and licensing strategies.

A summary of key reforms is posted on the DTI and HMSO websites. Links: www.dti.gov.uk  and www.hmso.gov.uk