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Access Info Europe Discusses Transparency with Spanish Government

Madrid, 3 April 2014 – Access Info and the Foundation Civio met on Wednesday 2 April 2014 with senior representatives of the Spanish government to discuss a range of transparency issues, including implementation of the access to information law (due to come into force on 10 December 2014), Spain's second Open Government Partnership Action Plan, and moves by the Spanish Parliament to regulate lobbying.

This is the first time in two years that Access Info has had a formal meeting with government representatives to review transparency issues. The meeting was held with State Secretary for Parliamentary Relations, José Luis Ayllón Manso, as well as Eduardo Ribas Steegmann, Parliamentary Relations Cabinet Director, and Esperanza Zambrano, Deputy Director for Legislative Proposals and Parliamentary Documentation. Access Info was represented by Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, and Victoria Anderica, Campaigner. Civio was represented by David Cabo, Director, and Eva Belmonte, Project Director.

One of the most significant issues which arose was that the government confirmed that it is planning to ask all requesters to provide their ID number (or passport number in the case of foreigners) and that requests will only be permited by one single form on the future Transparency Portal.

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Access Info Europe condemns police violence against the press during weekend protests in Spain

Madrid, 31 March 2014 - Various journalists were directly attacked by the police whilst covering a protest on Saturday 29 March 2014. The following video was filmed by journalists covering the protest, who soon became the target of police agression also:

Access Info Europe today expressed concern that such attacks interfere directly with press freedom and the free flow of information, and are likely to have a chilling effect on the work of journalists in covering street demonstrations and other similar events.

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Launch of new global campaign to stop secret government contracting

stopsecretcontractsMadrid, 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.

OpenGovernmentStandars

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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