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Reduced accessibility of open data would complicate courts' work

Justice minister Raivo Aeg.
Justice minister Raivo Aeg. Source: ERR

The initiative by the Minister of Justice, Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) to restrict the use of courts' open data would make work harder for journalists, courts, judges, prosecutors and lawyers, daily newspaper Postimees writes.

Although the draft gives the impression court's open data will be made machine unreadable after the amendment enters into force, this data hasn't been able to be processed in the Riigi Teataja for more than two months.

Three years ago, Evert Nõlv developed the application xLaw for open court data processing, which helps lawyers search for precedents and allows them to perform keyword-independent keyword searches. The application is now used by more than 1,500 lawyers every day, including more than 50 law firms and all Estonian courts.

Nõlv said restricting access to open data conflicts with the European Union Directive 2019/1024, which specifically states court documents are a valuable repository and companies should be able to use this database to develop new applications.

"On May 8, a robot trap unexpectedly appeared on the website of Riigi Teataja without a legal basis for the search for court decisions on the grounds of protection of the rights of individuals, so that means, the reality already corresponds to what was requested in the amendment," Nõlv told Postimees.

Last week, the Ministry of Justice sent the amendments to the coordination round. The amendments state that court decisions and trial data published in the Riigi Teataja would no longer be provided for use as open data.

According to the same proposal, the Riigi Teataja will remove personal data from a court decision after the sentence has expired. Aeg said this serves the interests of the people that have served their sentences.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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