Nina Boteva Law Newsletter September 2021

Directive (EU) 2019/1024 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on open data and the re-use of public sector information (the Open Data Directive) was adopted two years ago. Further to the above, there is an obligation for the Republic of Bulgaria to transpose into Bulgarian legislation the requirements and measures provided for in the Open Data Directive. These legislative proposals are reflected in the Bill amending the Law on Access to Public Information.

The term “open data” generally means data in an open format that can be used freely, re-shared, and shared by anyone for any purpose. The Open Data Directive aims at preserving the achievements in the field of re-use of public sector information and the development and upgrading of the legislation on the so-called open data.

The Directive is designed to promote the use of machine-readable open format data in the European Union (EU). The Open Data Directive imposes a regulatory regime in regard to the provision of real-time access to dynamic data through appropriate technical means, increasing the supply of valuable public sector data (high-value datasets) for reuse. To this end, a number of new concepts and additional obligations of public sector organizations are introduced.

Research data is brought to the fore as a type of data of recognized importance, which for this reason and provided that they are publicly funded, are included in the scope of this legislation by the Directive. In order to ensure that such data can be accessed, the open data regime also becomes applicable to the entities that create, store and disseminate these, namely research organizations and research funding organizations, thus expanding the range of obligated entities.

Pursuant to the newly introduced principle of “open by design and default” and to facilitate users in developing, upgrading, or implementing information systems or electronic services, public sector organizations are required to implement automated interfaces to ensure free public access to electronic documents, information and data in a machine-readable open format that is public, including through publication on the open data portal.

The procedure for providing dynamic data, research data, and high-value data by public sector organizations is specified. With a view to creating facilities for users, the State Agency for e-Government creates an opportunity to simplify access to data sets through the open data portal and by gradually providing appropriate data sets stored by public sector organizations with regard to information from the public sector, provided for re-use, as well as to data stored by public sector organizations, in formats that are accessible, easily detectable and reusable by electronic means.

The proposed changes in the legal framework establish the connection between the matter of open data and some related legal institutes, including the protection of personal data, intellectual property rights over databases, etc. The detailed regulations will lead to the creation of new services and applications that are based on the use, aggregation, or combination of data based on technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.