UK Government Most Transparent

According to global rankings looking at public access to official data, the UK government is the most open and transparent in the world.

86 countries were assessed for how easy their governments make it for state information to be analysed.

The UK is at number one, with the US and Sweden followed in second and third.

The World Wide Web foundation, which was founded by Sir Tim Berners Lee in 2009, accuses many governments of failing to honour their promises to ensure official data is available. It says that in more than 90% of countries surveyed, data that could help beat corruption and improve government services remained locked away from public view.

Sir Tim said: "There are a lot of countries that have promised to put this basic data out there, really valuable information to cement trust between the government and citizens, but a lot of them haven't followed up."

He added: "Despite coming top of the rankings, the UK has a long way to go. The release of map data is something where the UK has lagged behind, and you'd think postcodes would be part of the open structure of the UK, but they're not."

"The Post Office holds them as being a proprietary format. So, ironically, just a list of places in the UK is not available openly, for free, on the web."

Key to the UK's top ranking is the website which was launched by the Labour government in 2010.

However, Parliament's Digital Democracy Coalition has warned that transparency is not the same as accountability.

Meg Hillier, a Labour MP said: "There's actually a big difference between dumping data that's not easily understandable and actually having open data that clever people can use to help you and me find out the information they want about the subject they want.

"One of the things that MPs are trying to get government to do is to make sure data is released in usable formats. Just dumping data is not the answer, it ticks a box but it doesn't do the job."

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