Open Data and Privacy: Moving forward


Open data offers huge opportunities to make governments more accountable and provide innovative, new services to citizens. However, as numerous studies show, citizens distrust the collection, use and dissemination of data by corporations and governments. The main reason is their concern about privacy. While privacy is not necessarily new on the Open Data agenda, the Snowden revelations have made privacy a focal point in public discussions about technology and data. And with increasing automatization and new methods to share and use data from different sources, the risk to harm individuals’ privacy is increasing. This challenges the “open by default” mantra, embraced by Open Data experts, and requires new approaches to protect privacy.

At the same time, data protection is often cited as the reason for reluctance towards genuine Open Government approaches. What is needed is a new middle ground: a careful process to define standards for privacy protection in public sector data management. Effective frameworks that help us balance the Right to Information, Innovation and the Right to Privacy would actually strengthen the Open Government agenda.

In the recent past, increasing awareness lead to valuable research in this area, and the issue of privacy found its way into the agenda of open data events. However, we are still at the beginning and many questions remain. Terms are often used vaguely, and it remains unclear which kind of data sets lead to privacy problems. We also need a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses of the different tools that can help us to better protect privacy. The following questions will shape the discussions at the workshop.  

How can we integrate privacy in Open Government policies in the big data era, where (government) data flows across sectors and is used by an increasing number of actors?

  • What can we learn from current Open Data practices in different EU countries?
  • What are standards and frameworks for privacy protection and how could those be applied to Open Government practices?
  • What are implications of current technical and legal developments (i.e. re-identification, the GDPR)?
  • What can we learn from research in that area, and how can we implement the conclusions given in this research?

With a small number of experts we would like to focus on current technical, legal and political challenges and solutions to address the tensions between Open Data and Privacy. We would like to explore the privacy concerns that have emerged across the global community of open data practice, and foster a conversation between privacy experts and open data advocates. Our larger goal beyond the workshop is to develop a vision and discuss the basic elements for a common (European) approach for open data and privacy.

Please note that this is a closed workshop. If you are interested to join please send an email to

12.02.2016 - 10:00 bis 17:00