Datasets

Section 102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 adds new provisions to FOIA (in particular sections 11 and 19) regarding datasets. The new provisions are about how information is released, rather than what information is released and they only relate to information that the public authority holds as a dataset, They are about the re-use of those datasets that the public authority provides in response to a request or under a publication scheme. If a public authority is providing information that constitutes a dataset and the requester has expressed a preference to receive the information in electronic form, the public authority must provide it in a re-usable form so far as reasonably practicable.

What is a Dataset?

A Dataset is:-

A collection of information held in electronic form where all or most of the information in the collection-

(a)   has been obtained or recorded for the purpose of the providing a public authority with information in connection with the provision of a service by the authority or the carrying out of any function of the authority,

(b)   is factual information which-

i. is not the product of analysis or interpretation other than calculation, and

ii. is not an official statistic (within the meaning given by section 6(1) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007), and

(c)   remains presented in a way that (except for the purpose of forming part of the collection) has not been organised, adapted or otherwise materially altered since it was obtained or recorded.

A summary of the provisions are:

1: Datasets must be made available in reusable format so far as reasonably practicable – the Information Commissioner’s guidance clarifies what this means:

“The Explanatory Notes to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 show that the term “capable of re-use” means not only that the data is machine-readable but also that it is available in a format based on open standards, rather than a proprietary format. For example, a spreadsheet that is made available in a CSV (comma separated value) format uses an open standard, whereas a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet does not, even though that particular product is widely used. However, the Excel spreadsheet can be saved as a CSV file.”

2: If the dataset is a relevant copyright work, it must be provided under the terms of a specified licence. A relevant copyright work is one for which the public authority owns the copyright and database rights and which is not a Crown copyright or Parliamentary copyright work. There are three licences available:

Open Government Licence (OGL)

Non-Commercial Government Licence

Charged Licence

The copyright holder must be established before licensing a dataset for reuse as copyright could belong to a third party.

3. Public authorities must publish datasets that have been requested as part of their Publication Scheme.

Below is a list of datasets the University has disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. These datasets are available for reuse under the terms of the Non-Commercial Government Licence for public sector information. If you require any datasets in CSV format or wish to discuss using a dataset for commercial purposes, please email: foi@swansea.ac.uk