We urge to reanimate open data

Key sets of open data, the availability of which depends on the transparency and accountability of reconstruction, are still not available. The RISE Ukraine coalition (hereinafter – the Coalition) and the Public Council under the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine (hereinafter – the Public Council) call on administrators to make public open data. For this purpose, we invite the security agencies to public communication with administrators and civil society, and the Ministry of Digital Transformation to discuss the developed changes to Resolution No. 835 of October 21, 2015.

In January 2023, the RISE Ukraine Coalition published a statement on ensuring the availability of open data. The problems mentioned in this statement persist to this day. Key datasets on which reconstruction transparency and accountability depend are not being made public, or are being made public with unjustified restrictions. These sets include, among others:

  • Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs and Public Organizations;
  • The Unified State Register of Declarations of Persons Authorised to Perform State or Local Self-Government Functions (Register of Declarations);
  • Unified state register of persons who have committed corruption or corruption-related offences (Register of corrupt persons);
  • Transactions of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Justice, the State Security Agency and other managers on;
  • Data and registers of the State Tax Service;
  • Unified state register of assets seized in criminal proceedings (Register of seized assets);
  • Court register, etc.

When restricting access to important public information, in no case was the so-called “three-fold test” carried out. That is, the restriction of access to data from the very beginning was carried out contrary to the requirements of the law. In addition, in many cases of restricting access by administrators, no official decision was issued that would serve as a legal basis for the respective restrictions. Thus, these restrictions were not only illegal, but also extremely opaque.

There are no legal reasons for restricting access to information in the form of open data, as all related legislation continues to be in force. At the same time, administrators unofficially note that they received letters of recommendation from the SBU regarding the closure of the data and now fear persecution in case of re-disclosure of the data. The lack of public communication on the part of the SBU and other security agencies regarding the risks created by the publication of this or that information creates a situation in which many data that do not threaten the security of the country are not made public. The practice of such informal restrictions is illegal and harmful. It threatens confidence in the reconstruction process, both in Ukrainian society and among international partners. It is transparency that is a necessary prerequisite for trust. A lack of trust will undermine political stability during wartime and reduce international aid.

Coalition organizations and the Public Council offer assistance in analyzing the risks associated with data disclosure, developing informed decisions about data disclosure, and communicating with regulators.

According to our information, after the public discussion of the draft amendments to Resolution No. 835 of the CMU dated 21.10.2015, the norms regarding the restriction of access to certain data sets during the legal regime of martial law were excluded from it. This is a positive development and we welcome it. At the same time, we call on the Ministry of Digital Transformation to openly discuss with stakeholders other norms introduced by the draft Resolution. As the body responsible for public policy in the field of open data, the Ministry should initiate such a discussion.‍

The RISE Ukraine coalition and the Public Council under the Ministry of Digital Transformation call for:

  • Ministry of Digital Transformation: to conduct an open discussion of the project of changes to Resolution of the CMU No. 835 dated 10/21/2015, which are currently being developed;
  • The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, the State Tax Service of Ukraine and other administrators: resume the publication of open data without additional registration, identification, authorization, passing automated tests or other restrictions;
  • Security Service of Ukraine, General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine:

1. provide clear explanations regarding the need to close information;

2. start cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, data managers and civil society to discuss risks and effectively conduct the “three-fold test” by managers.

1 The procedure for setting conditions for restricting access is defined by Article 6 of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information”