EITI adopts Open Data policy

OpenOil’s belief that transparency requires open data is steadily becoming an accepted truth.

This was confirmed once more last month, when the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) agreed their first ever policy on open data.

The EITI brings together governments, extractives corporations, investors and civil society. That makes it one of the most significant places where activist aspirations meet with business and politics. Its broad base makes it inherently conservative, but also gives it the power to push through real changes.

The new EITI standard, agreed at their annual conference in Lima in February, states that:

EITI Implementing countries are encouraged to….release data under an open license that allows users to freely obtain and easily
re-use it

As countries implement this rule, they will make it easier for OpenOil and similar groups to make maximum use of their information. Aleph, our search tool, already provides a full-text index of country EITI reports. These are a valuable source of information on government revenue from the extractives industry — but they will become even more valuable when open licenses allow for more elaborate use of the data.

Better still, the EITI is pushing for data from the reports to be available in structured formats. Until now, analyzing EITI data has involved manually copying data tables out of PDF files. Structured data will allow statistical analysis and cross-country comparisons, with far less preliminary legwork.

It’s not perfect. Open data is a recommendation rather than a requirement, and EITI considers Excel spreadsheets to be an open format. But it is another sign that open extractives data — a fringe idea when OpenOil was founded — has now won acceptance within the mainstream.

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