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Open data leaders slam government over postcode privatisation

Computer Weekly - The organisation that was given £10m government funding to increase the use of open data across the public sector has hit out at Whitehall plans to allow details of UK postcodes to continue to be sold for profit.

Newspaper reports claim that the government will allow Royal Mail to maintain ownership of the Postcode Address File (PAF), the database containing details of the 24 million property postcodes in the UK.

The data is valuable for online retailers, banks and other organisations that need to use the location of properties to provide services, especially web or mobile services. Campaigners have long called for the PAF to be made publicly available at no cost.

Gavin Starks, chief executive of the Open Data Institute (ODI), said the decision to keep PAF in the private sector “flies in the face of the UK's commitments”.

The ODI, headed by web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee (pictured) and web science professor Nigel Shadbolt, was set up last year with £10m of public money. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said at the time that open data was the "next industrial revolution”.