The differences and simillarites between Open data policies and laws

@herrmann have asked a question that What should an Open Data Law look like?
But all of the answers replied to it is about open data policies.(also mine!)
His question enhances an old question in my mind about the differences and similarities between open data policy and open data law. I also had a lot of searches in this field and found a lot of examples and sources for the open data policies. Besides, we had good examples of FOIA law. But there is no such an open data law.

Now I think I need the answers to these questions below:

  1. What is the difference between open data law and policy? ( in another word, how do a law and a policy differ?)

and with this supposition that there do is a difference between a law and a policy, (and I say yes, they are different) we might ask:

  1. There are a lot of samples for open data policies and the preparation guide for it. But is there any kind of open data law a country?

  2. Where is the place of open data law in open data ecosystem? which one of the open data law and policy in an ecosystem is prior to the other?

please notice that there is the same question we can ask about open government; like what the differences between open government policy and open government law are, or whether there is any example, etc.


@mhkhani, this is an excellent question that I do not see often explored in open data circles.

I agree that open data policy and open data law are different things, although they might intersect on some points. The law might define a policy, as well. As I mentioned on the other topic, a law can provide changes in ways that a policy defined on a lesser legal instrument might not. It really depends on what is the country’s Constitution and its legal system.

  1. An example of an Open Data Law is in my original post: Korea’s Open Data Law in 2013.
  2. In my opinion, yes. It is a way to make open data more permanent and less prone to the government back-pedalling on open data policy after a new party gets elected. As a speaker mentioned on the 4th International Open Data Conference, “what happens to open data after Obama leaves?” (note that this was before the recent election results).

As for which one comes first, I believe it can happen either way. There might be a policy first, and then society may seek to make it more broad in scope and more permanent with an open data law. The open data policy might also not exist previously, and be brought forth by the law itself, as the result of a pressure by society for open data where there is none yet.


Hello @mhkhani and @herrmann,

I’m looking for a listing of countries that have an open data policy in place.I found this DRAFT document for Rwanda:

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Hi all, only a guess… Perhaps a first approximation to a general answer is by exploring the dichotomy of “voluntary vs. obligation”,

The interserction (and perhaps the main source of confusions) is a technical standard text citated by a law text: by logic, the obligation rule (of the law) that cite external “complementar rules”, is incorporating the external-text rules, so, the law have the power to “contamine” the voluntary norms, turning it an obligation.

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my two cents on this:

Policy, law, regulation, standard, strategy … one also need to look at
the national context and understand how those elements are defined and
considered by the stakeholders who are going (supposed) to implement them.


Hi @mark_herringer
Maybe you should ask your question in a separate topic. I just find these, but not for countries, for state government in the US:

If you have or find the list of different open data policies, please share with us:slight_smile: