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New Open Knowledge Foundation board chair and vice-chair appointed

- June 25, 2019 in News, Open Knowledge Foundation

The Open Knowledge Foundation is delighted to announce that Vanessa Barnett has been appointed as the new Chair of the Board of Directors, and Helen Turvey has been appointed as Vice-Chair. Vanessa Barnett said:
“It is a great honour to be appointed Chair of the Open Knowledge Foundation, at an incredibly exciting time for the organisation. We’re returning to our founding principles and fighting for a fair, free and open future. Our mission is to create an open world, where all non-personal information is open, free for everyone to use, build on and share; and creators and innovators are fairly recognised and rewarded. Our vision has never been more important, and I am excited to be supporting the organisation as Chair.”

Helen Turvey said:
“I’m delighted to be appointed Vice-Chair at a time when the Open Knowledge Foundation is going from strength-to-strength. The world has changed dramatically since our organisation was launched 15 years ago, and we need champions for openness. I’m looking forward to working closely with the great team involved in running the Foundation.”
Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“I’m pleased to welcome Vanessa and Helen as our new Chair and Vice-Chair, and look forward to working with them. I would also like to thank Tim Hubbard for his work as outgoing chair of the board and all the members of the board who support everything we do to promote openness. The Open Knowledge Foundation is uniquely placed to address the challenges of the digital age and work towards a fair, free and open future.”
  About Vanessa Barnett Vanessa Barnett is a lawyer who helps clients who are using technology and data to innovate or disrupt established ways of doing things, with particular expertise in Internet/platform based business models. She likes working with people who are changing the status quo. She has supported her clients from household-name global brands to nimble start-ups do this for over 15 years, first as a partner at two traditional City firms and now at disruptor law firm Keystone Law. She regularly advises boards on legal matters and strategy in her role as a lawyer. Vanessa has a specific interest in the cross over between technology, intellectual property and data, and right now is spending most of her working time advising on data related projects. She holds a degree in Law from Exeter University, is the founding author of the Internet section of Practical Commercial Precedents and sits on its editorial board. She is also on the editorial board of Digital Business Lawyer About Helen Turvey Helen has spent the past two decades working to make philanthropy better. She is honoured to have spent over half of that time working with the Shuttleworth Foundation, an organisation brave and nimble enough to be truly experimental in their approach to changing the world and its own DNA along with it. Having spent time at the beginning of her career travelling, learning and keynoting on most continents, Helen now spends her time working with the Fellows and Alumni of the Foundation, building, supporting, strengthening and enabling leaders who iterate towards a more open and equitable world. She is also on the board of several organisations that drive open ideals.

UK Health Secretary challenged to tackle access to medicines

- June 4, 2019 in health, News

The Open Knowledge Foundation has written to Westminster Health Secretary Matt Hancock to demand the UK Government plays its role in addressing the global lack of access to medicines. The challenge comes after the UK disassociated itself from an international agreement aimed at reducing the cost of drugs across the world. The resolution at the World Health Assembly was designed to improve the transparency of markets for medicines, vaccines, and other health products. It brought together countries including Brazil, Spain, Russia and India in recognition of the critical role played by health products and services innovation in bringing new treatments and value to patients and health care systems. By sharing information on the price paid for medicines and the results of clinical trials, countries can work together to negotiate fair prices on equal terms with the aim of lowering drug costs. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“It is shameful that the UK Government is not willing to stand in solidarity with people most at risk of illness and death because of lack of access to medicines. We live in extraordinary times when new medical and technological advances are capable of saving millions of lives. The key to building equality for all is greater openness and transparency, and this philosophy must also be applied to healthcare. By sharing information on the price paid for medicines and the results of clinical trials, countries can work together to negotiate fair prices on equal terms with the aim of lowering drug costs. Quite simply, openness can save lives across the world.

I urge Matt Hancock to strongly reconsider the UK’s position.”

Reflections on the 2019 European parliamentary elections

- May 30, 2019 in News

With around 200 million people voting across Europe, the make-up of the new European Parliament for the next five years has been decided. While the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) won the most seats, its contingent is down on the previous election. The traditional centre-left grouping of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) – which I was a member of – has also been squeezed by the rise of populist parties. Anti-establishment parties won close to a third of seats, including the Brexit Party in the UK, and they head to Brussels to be destructive, not constructive.  But these parties are fragmented and will largely be snubbed by the majority of MEPs, meaning the Liberals and Greens elected will prove far more pivotal to Europe’s journey over the next five years. The two main groupings need to build coalitions, so horse-trading will be getting underway between pro-EU parties. The European Parliament needs to elect a new President, who normally comes from the largest group, then there is the selection of Vice Presidents, Quaestors, chairs of committees and vice chairs of committees, which will be divided up between the political groups dependent on individual delegation size. And what about the special candidate who leads the Commission? Will this happen like last time where the EPP with the largest number of elected MEPs got Jean Claude Juncker in for the top job? If history repeats itself that will be Manfred Weber, the German lead candidate, but opinions are split across Europe. The Member States will also choose who will be the head of the Council. Unlike the Commission position, the head of the Council is picked by the heads of the Member States. It is unclear how long the UK’s MEPs will be sitting in the parliament, which means they’re unlikely to find themselves in the running for these key positions, diluting the country’s influence before – or if – Brexit takes place. During the last parliamentary term, when I was an MEP for Scotland, much of my work was focused on proposed EU-wide copyright changes, and opposing what was originally known as Article 13 and later became Article 17. The changes are opposed by over five million people through a petition, but MEPs backed the changes earlier this year, as did the Council of the European Union – with six countries voting against: Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden. Poland is now launching a legal challenge. If implemented, the changes are expected to lead to the introduction of ‘filters’ on sites such as YouTube, which will automatically remove content that could be copyrighted. While entertainment footage is most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge, and critics argue it will have a negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. Despite the recent votes, this issue is likely to be a major issue for the new crop of MEPs, and the battle is not over. Green parties in particular have been vocal opponents of this crackdown, and they have been successful across Europe.  The more diverse make-up of the European Parliament should allow more voices to be heard, and I hope many MEPs choose to champion openness over the next five years. That includes supporting improved transparency measures at social media companies like Facebook to prevent the spread of disinformation and fake news and backing efforts to force governments and organisations to use established and recognised open licences when releasing data or content. Our mission is to create an open world, where all non-personal information is open, free for everyone to use, build on and share; and creators and innovators are fairly recognised and rewarded. I hope MEPs from across Europe will work with us to build a fair, free and open future.  

The Sum of Our Parts – Open Organisations

- May 29, 2019 in News

The “open” sector, encompassing organisations working on transparency, civic participation, and open data, has grown fast in many countries in the past decade, aided by political champions and a generous funding environment. Today, there is a sense of waning political interest amongst previous high-level advocates and an expected reduction in core funding to come. At the same time there are an emergent set of data-related issues connected to privacy, rights, automation and more, that merit new thinking and approaches. In this context, we, the CEOs of seven international open organisations – mySociety, the Sunlight Foundation, the Open Data Institute (ODI), the Open Data Charter (ODC), the Web Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) and the GovLab – got together to consider how to manage these shifts.

Photo by Jonas Svidras on Unsplash

We see an opportunity to achieve more impact by combining our efforts in the face of shared challenges. We share a commitment to scale and deepen the impact of our work and to communicate more clearly who we are and how we differ. Ultimately, we are looking for opportunities to become more than the sum of our parts.

As such, we undertook a process, supported by Oxford Insights and funded by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative donor collaborative, to review our current strategies and workstreams, analyse each of our organisation’s role and comparative advantages, identify areas for collaboration, and propose actions to make such collaboration a reality. What we mapped out and what we learned are cape captured in this report. We identified several areas ripe for enhanced collaboration. We categorized these under policy, advocacy, and campaigning; learning, training, and skills development; consultancy; technology and infrastructure; network and coordination; communications; and operations. Going forward, we will explore in-depth how to best collaborate on these fronts. For a guiding framework, OKF, ODI, and ODC will lead a process of defining an overarching Theory of Change for openness that articulates our strategic alignment. Finally, we also intend to collaborate more closely on joint opportunity development in both philanthropic and commercial funding, with a specific focus on how to develop joint projects with a sector-based approach. Sectors under consideration for aligned development include climate change, health and education. Funders can help here, too, by facilitating links to other funders and organisations in those fields. So far, we are already making progress on some of the report’s proposed recommendations. We have largely identified which organisations and people will lead on each proposed action item and created a spreadsheet to introduce those responsible for key areas to each other. We now have a WhatsApp group to more informally and easily share information. Work is underway by OKF and ODI on the overarching Theory of Change. Finally, our organisations are also beginning to engage each other in our strategy development process, including scheduling review sessions.  While there is still much work to do, we are making some early progress. We believe strongly that this collaboration will benefit not only our own organisations but also the broader open field. We invite other open organisations to reach out to us on any of the avenues of collaboration outlined above and join our efforts. We hope funders will take advantage of our group, too – engage us in thinking through data implications in other thematic programming. Protecting and further mainstreaming the open agenda will require many hands.  

Για ένα δίκαιο, ελεύθερο και ανοικτό μέλλον: γιορτάζοντας τα 15 χρόνια του Open Knowledge Foundation

- May 23, 2019 in Featured, Featured @en, News, ανοικτά δεδομένα, ανοικτή γνώση, Νέα

Σύνταξη: Ισίδωρος Πάσσας 20 Μαΐου 2019, από την Catherine Stihler Η κα Catherine Stihler, CEO του Open Knowledge Foundation, στο τελευταίο της επετειακό άρθρο, γιορτάζοντας τα 15 χρόνια του Open Knowledge Foundation, στο blog του Ιδρύματος, παρουσιάζει το όραμα του Ιδρύματος για τα επόμενα χρόνια. Η κα Stihler ξεκινά το άρθρο κάνοντας μία σύντομη ιστορική […]

For a fair, free and open future: celebrating 15 years of the Open Knowledge Foundation

- May 20, 2019 in Featured, News, Open Knowledge Foundation

Fifteen years ago, the Open Knowledge Foundation was launched in Cambridge by entrepreneur and economist Rufus Pollock. At the time, open data was an entirely new concept. Worldwide internet users were barely above the 10 per cent mark, and Facebook was still in its infancy. But Rufus foresaw both the massive potential and the huge risks of the modern digital age. He believed in access to information for everyone about how we live, what we consume, and who we are – for example, how our tax money gets spent, what’s in the food we eat or the medicines we take, and where the energy comes from to power our cities. From humble beginnings, the Open Knowledge Foundation grew across the globe and pioneered the way that we use data today, striving to build open knowledge in government, business and civil society – and creating the technology to make open material useful. We created the Open Definition that is still the benchmark today – that open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose. With staff on six continents, we became known as Open Knowledge International and launched projects in dozens of countries. As we celebrate our 15th anniversary today, our world has changed dramatically. Large unaccountable technology companies have monopolised the digital age, and an unsustainable concentration of wealth and power has led to stunted growth and lost opportunities. When that happens it is consumers, future innovators and society that loses out. We live in powerful times, where the greatest danger is not the chaos but to rest in the past. So as we reach an important milestone in our organisation’s own journey, we recognise it is time for new rules for this new digital world. We have decided to re-focus our efforts on why we were created in 2004, ‘to promote the openness of all forms of knowledge’, and return to our name as the Open Knowledge Foundation. Our vision is for a future that is fair, free and open. That will be our guiding principle in everything we do. Our mission is to create a more open world – a world where all non-personal information is open, free for everyone to use, build on and share; and creators and innovators are fairly recognised and rewarded. We understand that phrases like ‘open data’ and ‘open knowledge’ are not widely understood. It is our job to change that. The next 15 years and beyond are not to be feared. We live in a time when technological advances offer incredible opportunities for us all. This is a time to be hopeful about the future, and to inspire those who want to build a better society. We want to see enlightened societies around the world, where everyone has access to key information and the ability to use it to understand and shape their lives; where powerful institutions are comprehensible and accountable; and where vital research information that can help us tackle challenges such as poverty and climate change is available to all. Our work will focus on health, where access to medicines requires new thinking, and on education where new EU-wide copyright law impacts on both academic research and on people’s ability to access knowledge. We will also concentrate on employment, including tackling the growing inequality from working patterns and conditions, and the ability for creators and innovators to be fairly compensated. This reaches to the heart of a fair, free and open future where there is opportunity for all. We have also set out five demands for this week’s European elections and will push for MEPs from across Europe to prioritise these when the European Parliament returns in summer. Firstly, we will fight the introduction of Article 17 of the EU’s copyright reforms which threatens to restrict the sharing of data and other content on the internet for half-a-billion people in Europe. We also want to see improved transparency measures at social media companies like Facebook to prevent the spread of disinformation and fake news. We recognise the concerns that people have about the misuse of data, so we will champion ‘responsible data’ to ensure that data is used ethically and legally, and protects privacy. We also want to persuade governments and organisations to use established and recognised open licences when releasing data or content; and we will aim to build a network of open advocates in the European Parliament who will push for greater openness in their own nations. We live in a knowledge society where we face two different futures: one which is open and one which is closed. An open future means knowledge is shared by all – freely available to everyone, a world where people are able to fulfil their potential and live happy and healthy lives. A closed future is one where knowledge is exclusively owned and controlled leading to greater inequality and a closed future. With inequality rising, never before has our vision of a fair, free and open future been so important to realise our mission of an open world in complex times.

EU Council backs controversial copyright crackdown

- April 15, 2019 in copyright, eu, Featured, Internet, News, Policy

The Council of the European Union today backed a controversial copyright crackdown in a ‘deeply disappointing’ vote that could impact on all internet users. Six countries voted against the proposal which has been opposed by 5million people through a Europe-wide petition – Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden.
Three more nations abstained, but the UK voted for the crackdown and there were not enough votes for a blocking minority. The proposal is expected to lead to the introduction of ‘filters’ on sites such as YouTube, which will automatically remove content that could be copyrighted. While entertainment footage is most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge, and critics argue it will have a negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. EU member states will have two years to implement the law, and the regulations are still expected to affect the UK despite Brexit. The Open Knowledge Foundation said the battle is not over, with the European elections providing an opportunity to elect ‘open champions’. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“This is a deeply disappointing result which will have a far-reaching and negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. The controversial crackdown was not universally supported, and I applaud those national governments which took a stand and voted against it. We now risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a more open world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.

But the battle is not over. Next month’s European elections are an opportunity to elect a strong cohort of open champions at the European Parliament who will work to build a more open world.”

Το OK Greece στην ημερίδα «Ανοικτοί εκπαιδευτικοί πόροι και Διά Βίου Μάθηση: Ευκαιρίες και προκλήσεις για την Ανώτατη Εκπαίδευση και τις δημόσιες βιβλιοθήκες»

- March 26, 2019 in Featured, Featured @en, News, ανοικτή εκπαίδευση, ανοικτοί εκπαιδευτικοί πόροι, διασυνδεδεμένα δεδομένα, Εκδηλώσεις, Νέα

Το «παρών» έδωσε το Ίδρυμα Ανοικτής Γνώσης Ελλάδος (OK Greece) στην ημερίδα «Ανοικτοί εκπαιδευτικοί πόροι και Διά Βίου Μάθηση: Ευκαιρίες και προκλήσεις για την Ανώτατη Εκπαίδευση και τις δημόσιες βιβλιοθήκες», η οποία διεξήχθη στις 15 Μαρτίου, στην Αθήνα. Το OK Greece εκπροσώπησαν ο πρόεδρός του, Δρ Χαράλαμπος Μπράτσας, και ο κος Σωτήρης Καραμπατάκης, Developer/Data Analyst. […]

EU copyright vote a ‘massive blow’ for internet users

- March 26, 2019 in copyright, eu, Featured, Internet, News, Policy

MEPs have today voted to press ahead with a controversial copyright crackdown in a ‘massive blow’ for all internet users. Despite a petition with over 5 million signatures and scores of protests across Europe attended by tens of thousands of people, MEPs voted by 348 to 274 in favour of the changes. It is expected to lead to the introduction of ‘filters’ on sites such as YouTube, which will automatically remove content that could be copyrighted. While entertainment footage is most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge, and critics argue it will have a negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. EU member states will have two years to implement the law, and the regulations are still expected to affect the UK despite Brexit. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“This vote is a massive blow for every internet user in Europe. MEPs have rejected pleas from millions of EU citizens to save the internet, and chose instead to restrict freedom of speech and expression online. We now risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a more open world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.

But while this result is deeply disappointing, the forthcoming European elections provide an opportunity for candidates to stand on a platform to seek a fresh mandate to reject this censorship.”

Final copyright vote: MEPs must choose to save the internet

- March 26, 2019 in copyright, eu, Featured, Internet, News

MEPs will today vote on a controversial copyright crackdown that could restrict internet freedoms for millions of people. After years of negotiation, the final vote will be held on reforms that could result in automatic ‘upload filters’ which restrict what can be posted on social media platforms like YouTube. More than 5.1million people have signed a petition to ‘save the internet’, and scores of protests attended by tens of thousands of people were held across Europe at the weekend. While entertainment footage such as video game clips or copyrighted songs are most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge. The vote will be one of the last major decisions taken by MEPs before the European elections, and possibly the last by the UK’s MEPs ahead of Brexit. Over 120 MEPs have publicly pledged to vote against the crackdown, but that includes only three from the UK. Brexit does not offer an escape route from the changes, as any website that operates within the EU is likely to abide by the regulations. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of Open Knowledge International which campaigns for openness, said:
“If passed, this copyright crackdown will lead to a chilling effect on freedom of speech. It could change the web as we know it and restrict how we share research that could lead to medical breakthroughs or how we share facts to combat the spread of ‘fake news’. MEPs must choose to save the internet in this crucial vote. I particularly urge the UK’s MEPs to stand up and be counted while they still have a voice at the top table, as this will affect everyone in the UK even after Brexit. We must use digital advances for the public good and help build a more open world, not create a more closed society.”

Catherine Stihler was MEP for Scotland until January 2019. As an MEP, she was vice-chair of the European Parliament’s consumer protection committee and led the fight against the proposals. More background information on the proposal is available here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-47239600