A journal article which I co-authored with Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius and Mireille van Eechoud – both at the Institute for Information Law (IVIR) at the University of Amsterdam – has just been published in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal (BTLJ).
The title is “Open Data, Privacy and Fair Information Principles: Towards a Balancing Framework”, and the abstract is copied below. The full paper can be downloaded here (PDF).
Open Data, Privacy and Fair Information Principles: Towards a Balancing Framework
Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius, Jonathan Gray & Mireille van Eechoud
Open data are held to contribute to a wide variety of social and political goals, including strengthening transparency, public participation and democratic accountability, promoting economic growth and innovation, and enabling greater public sector efficiency and cost savings. However, releasing government data that contain personal information may threaten privacy and related rights and interests. In this Article we ask how these privacy interests can be respected, without unduly hampering benefits from disclosing public sector information. We propose a balancing framework to help public authorities address this question in different contexts. The framework takes into account different levels of privacy risks for different types of data. It also separates decisions about access and re-use, and highlights a range of different disclosure routes. A circumstance catalogue lists factors that might be considered when assessing whether, under which conditions, and how a dataset can be released. While open data remains an important route for the publication of government information, we conclude that it is not the only route, and there must be clear and robust public interest arguments in order to justify the disclosure of personal information as open data.