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Law change opens UK public data for re-use

ZDNet - UK Parliament has amended UK information law in an attempt to make open data easier for developers and companies to use and commercialise.

The Protection of Freedoms Act, which contained amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, was passed by royal assent on Tuesday. The amendments will see public sector bodies present open data in standardised, re-usable formats.

"The information will be available in machine-readable form, using open standards, which enables its re-use and manipulation — for example, in a spreadsheet or .csv format (a common readable computer format that allows you to manipulate and transfer data easily)," a Cabinet Office spokesman told ZDNet UK in an email exchange on Wednesday. "Examples of documents not in a re-usable form include Adobe PDF documents."

Data will not be presented in raw form, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in a statement.

"At present, the data issued by public authorities is raw and often unformed," said Maude. "Under the new Protection of Freedoms Act, datasets should be released in a form that can be used and re-used, so it will no longer be necessary to make a separate approach to public authorities to re-use a dataset.