Open State takes to court Dutch Food Safety Authority’s denial of inspection data re-use

Open State Foundation will take to court a decision by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) in which it denies a request by Open State Foundation to re-use inspection data on among others food safety of lunchrooms. The request for the re-use of this public sector information was done already in 2015 but it took the NVWA seven months to take an initial decision. First the NVWA decided that due to ‘technical reasons’ it could not provide the data in an open machine readable format but after an appeal by Open State Foundation it now states that the information relates to privacy.

The reasoning by the NVWA is particularly strange because in 2014 it has launched a website on July 7, 2014 with the publication of these results of lunchroom inspections on a Googlemap and has commissioned DICTU, one of the largest governmental ICT services (part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs) to produce an Android and IOS version (which was made by Sogeti). The data that is used for these apps and website could be easily made available as open data.

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Open data offers many possibilities in this case. Consumers can be better informed about the quality of lunchrooms where they are looking for this information in the first place such as dinner sites. The purpose of the NVWA should be to inspect the quality and share the results. When a government produces a website of an app based on public sector information (and there are no limitations legal limitations to share this information), the data should be available in an open machine readable format to anyone.

PSI reuse request

On December 15, 2015, Open State Foundation requested the information from the NVWA pursuant to the re-use of public information law in an open machine readable format. On January 7, 2016, the Dutch Food Safety Authority adjourned the decision period. In a telephone conversation it made clear that it was not yet possible due to technical limitations without going into details.

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On February 12, 2016 the Dutch Food Authority informed Open State Foundation by phone that it would not be able to take a decision on the request within the statutory decision period . Meanwhile, seven months after the formal request for reuse and two years after the launch of digital catering inspection card, the Dutch Food Safety Authority stated that it rejected our request due to the technical inability to deliver the datasets in an open machine readable format. And today, after an appeal by Open State Foundation, it changed that reasoning by stating that it considers company information as privacy.