Chamber of Commerce asked to investigate open data by itself

Internal emails from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce show that the Chamber of Commerce itself has been specifically asked to do research on the publication of the Dutch company register as open data. A report entitled “Exploring the possibilities of company register information to be made available as open data” already has been sent to the Ministry of Economic Affairs two months ago.

Parliamentary motion

On November 25, 2015 a large majority of the Dutch parliament voted in favour of a motion that demands an investigation into making the company register available as open data. Minister Kamp of Economic Affairs had advised the parliament against the motion. Until now, the parliament has not been informed about the progress of this investigation. Open State Foundation therefore made a freedom of information request about the implementation of the motion. In the Netherlands, unlike countries such as the UK, France, Belgium, Norway and Denmark, the data of the company register is not open data.

Chamber of Commerce was asked to do the investigation itself

The emails indicate that the Chamber of Commerce itself was asked to make a report, with financial explanation and various scenarios. So far this report has not been presented to parliament. The report of the Chamber of Commerce is meant to be reviewed by an unknown external agency. Although the report should had been ready by the third week of January 2016, the report was only adopted by the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce a month later.

After the completion of the examination of the Chamber of Commerce itself, a research question will be formulated. The working group of representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Chamber of Commerce will guide further action. During an away day of the Board of Directors it discussed open data file and the consequences on its ‘business model’.

On February 4, 2016 the Chamber of Commerce made a presentation to the Ministry of Economic Affairs on the report. After the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce approved the report on March 1, it was distributed to the working group and a week later presented in a policy dialogue between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Chamber of Commerce.

Earlier disclosed documents to Open State Foundation show that the costs exploitation of the Dutch company register are more than company registers in the United Kingdom and Australia where data is available for free in machine-readable formats.

‘Public company registers should be accessible to everyone. That means that the data is not only available to companies which have a lot of means, but for everyone’, says Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation. ‘The public funds available to the Chamber of Commerce are more than sufficient to carry out this task’.

Open State Foundation believes that the disclosure of company and trade information as open data is of great importance for the economy, trade, innovation and transparency. This also requires a thorough independent and comparative investigation.