Think-tank: Officials' uncertainty harms public information dissemination

Documents (photo is illustrative).
Documents (photo is illustrative). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Compiling data on Estonian society is leading to challenges in both public and private sectors, particularly with regard to bottlenecks caused by differing standards across different data collection points, and access restrictions to information being set too readily, a Riigikogu think-tank says.

Foresight Center (Arenguseire Keskus) found that: "Representatives from the private sector cite the slowness of data requests, costs incurred, ambiguous regulations, the need for justification and difficult traceability as problems," said Vallistu. 

Spokesperson for the center Johanna Vallistu said: "The widespread publication of information and data sets boosts the transparency of society, reduces the risk of corruption and gives the private sector the opportunity to develop products and services which increase well-being."

"Since the regulations concerning data are complex, officials are not venturing to take responsibility for releasing data. As a result, we see cases where access to public information is essentially limited to 75 years," she added. 

This year, one of the Development Monitoring Center's research focuses is the future of data freedom , relating to central development trends and options for the further development of Estonia's data economy and data-based state governance until 2035.

Part of this data freedom monitoring work is also a study of the possibilities of using public information, which evaluates the legal and practical usability of public information in Estonia. 

The current Public Information Act also encourages easy setting of access restrictions Vallistu added, and said the Data Protection Inspectorate also exhibited double hatted-ness in the sense that it is responsible for both protecting data and promoting access to it, leading to confusion.

A qualitative study commissioned by the center in 2022 found the public sector is hindered from publishing data in greater volumes as a result of the various standards and procedures of data collection, plus the volume of data requests.

The survey conducted interviews with both public and private sector representatives, with journalists and representatives of the legal profession included in that sweep.

The Foresight Centre is a think tank at the Chancellery of the Riigikogu which analyses long-term developments in society and the economy, with the goal of helping to shape forward-looking policy-making, the organization says on its website.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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