The Argentine government opens its public data
On January 2016, the Argentine government began a process to open access to its public data, a topic that was paralyzed since the enactment of Decree 1172/203. Decree 117/2016, published in the Official Gazette, sets forth the bases of the process for the creation of an integral system for the communication and access to public data. The regulation orders all the ministries, secretaries and agencies that depend upon the national Executive branch to prepare a Plan for Open Data (Plan de Apertura de Datos). The plan shall be prepared within 180 days to be counted from January 13, 2016 and shall be delivered to the Ministry of Modernization (Ministerio de Modernización), which shall coordinate the open data initiative, as the application authority of the Decree 117/2016, as well as the availability of the data in the Open Data National Portal (Portal Nacional de Datos Públicos).
In accordance with this decision, the national Executive branch filed a bill proposal for “Access to the Public Data” on April 2016. The bill orders the publication of public data to all branches of the national government and certain public legal entities that depend upon the government, such as corporations where the national government has a substantial equity interest, as well as private corporations which receive funds from the government, in regards to the use of those public resources. The bill not only stipulates the “passive” transparency, i.e. the response to a requirement from an individual, but also commands the entities subject to the bill to perform acts of “active” transparency, taking the initiative in the publication of the data. As the application authority, the bill creates the Agency for the Access to Public Information (Agencia de Acceso a la Información Pública), in charge of a Director, and the Federal Council for Transparency (Consejo Federal para la Transparencia), with delegates from each province and the City of Buenos Aires, to coordinate policies at a interjurisdictional level.
Among the relevant aspects of the bill proposed by the national Executive branch we can highlight the following. The bill states that it is excluded from publication to the general public those documents that contain sensitive personal data, without the consent from its owner. In spite of this, the bill states that the rest of documents that contain personal data might be reused of redistributed freely, among other actions. It would have been ideal, as in Europe with Directive 2003/98/CE, that the bill had guidelines for such reuse or redistribution; in any case, the National Data Protection Agency (Dirección Nacional de Protección de Datos Personales) might issue the necessary regulation to protect the personal data of those individuals published by the government. Also, it is positive the obligation to have a Responsible of Access to Public Data (Responsible de Acceso a la Información) to attend the request for information; the bill does not set forth any prohibition or limitations regarding who might exercise the role, so as a consequence, and in particular for those private corporations compel to report, this role might be accumulated on one officer of the corporation, such as a Data Protection Officer.