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[ open data ]

Who impedes the open Ukraine

Oleksandr Opanasenko

This refers to the so-called open data which provide free access to information for any person. From the user is required to comply with the conditions of attribution, or, in the translation into a commonly understood language, of copyright, that is, when applying these information data, he must indicate the source of their receipt.

The concept of information openness did not appear yesterday or today. Statistics has been using by humanity for quite a long time. So, even 300 years ago, an ordinary Englishman, on his own initiative, began to collect information about the birth and death of fellow citizens, tracked the number of newborn boys and girls. Subsequently, he transferred his researches to official institutions, and on the basis of these data, British officials were able to calculate the amount of their army, that is, they began to form it not from the "bald", but guided by competent calculations. It's such a short digression into the history.

And now about the present. The huge mass of information that official government structures have accumulated throughout the world (including the citizens of their countries) have placed humanity in front of extraordinary challenges. They (the tops) know everything about us, then we also have the right to know everything the country lives with. We need to understand how budgets are formed, where and how our taxes are spent, how we will be treated, what kind of education our children can get - this list is practically inexhaustible.

In countries with established democracies, officials have long understood that they will have to open information for citizens. The process, although not very fast, but moved on. Now in many developed countries, open data programs are supported at the state level. This involves creating the necessary legislative framework, helping to expand the directions of open data and improve the conditions for their use for all members of society.

So, in Europe there are not only national programs for the development of open data, but also pan-European programs for which the EU spends a lot of money. In its turn, open data opens up great opportunities for business development, in particular in the IT field, the creation of new software products.

Brief summary: the overall macroeconomic effect of open government data for the EU countries is estimated at 2% of additional GDP, or 206 billion euros by 2020. In Ukraine of Yanukovych's time the openness of the data was out of the question. Though in 2011 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Law on Access to Public Information, but it was not easy to get to it.

And only in the post-Maidan period there were really significant changes in this sphere - in 2017 Ukraine rose to 18 positions in the ranking of countries with open data, leaving behind Italy, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Poland, etc. This is a real breakthrough, especially if we take our conservative burocracy, who does not like any innovations at all.

The burocrat does not like and is afraid of transparency, but here he is required to show everything, including what is "acquired by excessive work". This, you must agree, is a real break in the template. However, people who were difficult to resist: famous investigative journalists, public activists, reputable lawyers, and, finally, those who know best how to work with information - representatives of the IT sphere took on it. And they won, in particular, as early as in 2014, the first government open data website was launched in Ukraine.

For today in an open access are data of the state budget, the unified state register of legal entities, individuals-entrepreneurs, public formations, national legislation, etc. In 2018, it is planned to open data in the spheres of ecology, land relations and health protection, since they are very important for our citizens, and there is still very little available information in the public domain.

Actually, all information for which there is a public request, should be open. Of course, this is only the beginning, ahead of us is a big and painstaking work. First, the idea of open data should be promoted in the society, because most people are still far from it. Some don't even know what is this, while others have heard, but are not quite sure what to do with this information, don't understand how much economic benefit the use of open data brings. But this is a matter of time.

Today, the most important area of work for specialists is the digital processing of open data, which public institutions publish. The fact is that they are submitted in uncomfortable formats for work - mainly in the form of text files (doc., docx., pdf., etc.). To ensure that open data does not remain a declaration, you need to make them machine readable and easily combined with any other categories of open data. What, in fact, are going in IT companies.

It would seem that for their noble work these companies should have the greatest support from the state of Ukraine, which declared the openness of the data as its priority. However, not everything is so good “in the Danish kingdom”. But in this barrel of honey there is a spoon of tar (even a bucket). I will share with the readers the annoying story, which occurred with one of these companies, I mean “YouControl”.

Brief information: YouControl.com.ua is an interactive database of the Ukraine’s companies dossier, which is formed from 50 official open registries and is updated in online format. The system is available as a web service in the browser. We don't just lay out the information from the registries, but work it out in addition, supplementing with the help-identifiers, so that it would be convenient for you to analyze this data. New registries are constantly added by our analysts.

That is, if you plan to cooperate with a certain business structure, then in just a few minutes and for an adequate payment you can have a complete dossier on a potential partner and make a decision about cooperation or refuse it if the data obtained doesn’t suit you. The importance of such a service for entrepreneurs is difficult to object. But if you think that the state supports "YouControl", you’re deeply mistaken. Almost a year the company is being horrified by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which actively doesn’t like the company’s activities. I'll try briefly to convey the essence of the matter to readers.

The company is accused of illegally selling special technical means used for secretly receiving information, by prior agreement with a group of persons, as well as in unauthorized interference with automated systems. The accusations are fake, because no evidence of a "crime" has yet been found, although investigative actions continue for a year.

This horror began in March 2017. It was when representatives of special services came to company’s office to take all the financial documents, computer equipment; they searched the company director Sergey Milman, employees, and business partners of the company, withdrawing the cash belonging to these people. In this shameful operation, more than 100 (!) employees of the Security Service were involved. I repeat - zero evidence.

The public information managers (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Economic Development, State Statistics, State Tax Service of Ukraine, State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, State Special Communications Service of Ukraine, Supreme Economic Court, State Agency of Electronic Control) reported the absence of unauthorized interference in state registers. There are also no evidences of the sale of special equipment for obtaining private information.

To date, the only thing that has been achieved is the closure of the case against Sergey Milman and the return of funds to anyone from whom they were illegally confiscated. Equipment is still kept under arrest, the case against the company continues. There is quite a legitimate question: why SBU with such perseverance is trying to destroy the company "YouControl"?

Maybe they encroached on “the holy”? It's no secret that it was information trade in an opaque way that always was a source of illegal enrichment for a certain part of “fearless fighters with the enemies of the state”. And the monopolist's position made it possible to expose his "services" to sky-high prices, depending on the level of its own immorality.

Who owns the information - owns the world. Our leaders are well aware of this postulate, and that is why the mass prosecutions of IT business still take place in Ukraine. The history of YouControl is a vivid example of the struggle of power structures with those who are trying to deprive them of monopoly on information. However, it seems to me that the point of no return has already been passed. Together we will overcome all obstacles and we’ll be able to make Ukraine truly modern, open for our citizens and for the whole world.

© Times of Ukraine



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