Threat to Open Data withdrawn by French Parliament

Madrid/Paris, 20 December 2010 – Access Info Europe and Regards Citoyens welcomed the withdrawal on 16 December 2010 of a proposed amendment to France’s security and access to information laws which would have required background behaviour checks on users of government information.

The proposed amendment was significantly changed in the French parliament on Thursday 16 December following an international campaign by 35 organisations and experts from 25 countries which had raised concerns that the new law would seriously constrain both access to information and freedom of expression. Read the campaign letter (here).

As a result, multiple members of parliament from all political groups proposed either to change the dangerous amendment or to withdraw it. The version eventually adopted no longer refers to France’s access to information law and only requires “morality” checks on users of the national database of car number plates.

Letter to the French MPs file_pdf
Press release: Global protest against controls on use of public information, 14 December 2010 file_pdf
Press release: France proposes behaviour checks on users of public information, 22 November 2010 file_pdf

Some could still argue that having such personal data accessible for commercial marketing purposes is unacceptable, but that will be up to the Senate to discuss in a couple months. Today the threat to open public data has been withdrawn,” said Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou, co-founder of Regards Citoyens.

The immediate danger for the right to information has passed,” commented Helen Darbishire of Access Info Europe, “but there remains a concern that a special legal regime has been adopted to give a handful of businesses privileged access to personal data.

Access Info and Regards Citoyens noted with concern that other measures adopted by the French parliament include administrative filtering of internet content without judicial oversight, something human rights organisations fear will lead to censorship of the internet. Read more here.

The two civil society organisations today called on the French government to focus on a broader initiative to open up public sector information for all users. They noted that this is happening in many leading democracies – such as Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States – which are posting large volumes of raw public data online with no preconditions on who may use it or how. This is done in recognition of the significant social and economic benefits that such transparency brings, including promoting participation in decision-making and permitting development of applications that benefit society as a whole.

Notes for Editors:

1. Access Info Europe is a human rights organisation head-quartered in Madrid which promotes the right of access to information and open government data in Europe. Access Info Europe believes that more public information means better participation in and greater accountability of public bodies.
2. Regards Citoyens is a civic association which promotes the opening of public data to secure greater transparency of democratic institutions in France.
3. Information about the amendment finally adopted can be found (in French) on the website
4. Examples of online portals for accessing public data include , , , .

For more information – in English or French – please contact:

Victoria Anderica, Access Info Europe, victoria

Office phone: +34 91 366 5344
Mobile: +34 606 592 976

Helen Darbishire, Access Info Europe (
helen [at], mobile: +34 667 685 319