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Launch of new global campaign to stop secret government contracting

stopsecretcontractsMadrid, Thursday 27 February 2014 - Today sees the launch of a new global campaign, Stop Secret Contracts, calling on world leaders to end secrecy in public contracting. The campaign is coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation, and signed by Access Info Europe along with  signatories including Global Witness, Integrity Action, the International Budget Partnership, the Sunlight Foundation and Transparency International.

The need for openness and transparency in contracting is an issue which has gathered increasing momentum in recent years. The global value of government contracts estimated at $9.5 trillion [1], but even in countries with strong government transparency laws the contracting process is often opaque and unaccountable. In both Africa and the EU, estimates suggest that around $150 billion is lost annually to corruption and mismanagement [2].

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Open Data Day 2014: Open Government Standards

Madrid, 22 February 2014 - As open data activists around the world celebrate "Open Data Day" on 22 February 2014, Access Info Europe recalls that Open Data is an integral part of all work to promote open government and has been integrated into the core of the Open Government Standards, which are being promoted by civil society as a framework for determining and evaluating government progress on openness.

To mark Open Data Day 2014, Access Info reiterated its call for governments to ensure that all data released in digital formats is made available in an open format. In practice this means releasing data in a machine-readable format using commonly available, open source or free software tools, and ensuring that the data can be processed, evaluated, and reused without limits. There must be no technical or legal limits on reuse of the information.

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Helen Darbishire, Founder and Executive Director of Access Info, explained the importance of making government data freely available in open formats: "True openness means that everyone has the same opportunities to access and use public data sets. Open formats help unlock the social and economic potential of information, particularly large data sets, but also other types of data. Open formats permit wide distribution of information, which in turn contributes to better understanding of public institutions and increases opportunities to participate in decision-making processes."

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European Parliament moves forward on Transparency of Company Ownership

moneylaunderingMadrid, Friday 21 February 2014 – In an important move with widespread implications for the defence of human rights and the fight against corruption, the European Parliament moved a step closer towards a legal obligation for companies to disclose their real or “beneficial” owners on 20 February 2014.

The progress came in the form of a vote in favour of beneficial ownership transparency by Parliamentarians in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE). The Parliamentarians voted that the future EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive should require mandatory public registries of the beneficial owners of companies.

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Access Info Europe endorses International Principles on Surveillance

IPStransparencyMadrid, Monday 24 February 2014 – Access Info Europe today formally signed the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, and reiterated its call for greater transparency of state surveillance of private communications.

"In spite of the scandal which followed the Snowden revelations, we still have insufficient information about the nature, scale, and use by states of surveillance of private individuals," said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

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