The Estonian e-Business Register will be free to access from October 1 for most categories of data.
Until now, viewing data on firms and businesses, state and local government institutions, foundations and NGOs had incurred a fee, and will mostly now be available free, with the exception of documents filed by NGOs which may contain specific categories of personal data, in which case access will still be paid.
Justice Minister Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) said making data available free of charge will help make the business sector more transparent and innovative.
She said: "A transparent business environment means that the consumer knows whose services and products he is consuming, and entrepreneurs can investigate the background of the cooperation partner when establishing business ties."
"The transparency of the economy is in the interest of the whole society," the minister went on.
The development points the way toward further availability of data, Rivo Reitmann, director of the Center of Registers and Information Systems (RIK) said
"We are dealing with the first step on the road map of open data. In the next stage, we will review the needs of entrepreneurs and what is additionally desired when creating new services. We also want to make it more convenient to find information in the e-business register portal;" Reitmann said.
Pille Lehis, Director General of the Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate (Andmekaitse Inspektsioon) said that there need be no concerns about privacy – the use of open data is still subject principles of data protection, for instance when developing new data-based services, when a service provider must ensure they have the right to use the data for each additional data processing.
At the same time, those whose data is available on the register can also do their part to ensure that no sensitive personal data, such as personal phone number, email address or home address, is entered on the register, Lehis added.
The business register in English is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte