On 8 December 2021 the provisions of the Act on Open Data and the Re-use of Public Sector Information entered into force (“Open Data Act”). This Act, passed on 11 August 2021, has introduced into the Polish legal system the provisions of 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 new Act also provides for the implementation of solutions that go beyond the minimum that follows from the said Directive. In the legislator’s view, these solutions are to make the re-use of public sector information more efficient and bring about an increase in the innovation of products and services of the private sector that uses this data. Also of importance here are the constantly developing technologies used to analyse and process data, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Open Data Act repeals the existing Act of 25 February 2016 on the Re-use of Public Sector Information, even though the new Act is to a large extent based on the existing regulations. In particular, the general principle is retained of unconditional and free of charge access to or provision of public sector information for the purpose of its re-use (with certain exceptions). The new regulations also introduce a range of new solutions concerning such issues as:

  • a data-opening programme of the state which is to comply with an act prepared periodically by the Minister in charge of digitalisation;

  • the operation of a data portal (earlier as a “central public information repository”), which is hosted at dane.gov.pl and which, under the new Act, is to cover not only data made available by public entities but also databases that are at the disposal of private sector entities, including business entities that agree to this (so-called private data);

  • the appointment of attorneys in fact for open data issues, who are to be appointed to carry out actions aimed at increasing the volume of and improving the quality of public sector information made available on data portals;

  • making new categories of data available for re-use, including so-called high value data (data whose re-use involves significant benefits for society, the environment, and the economy), dynamic data (data that is subject to updating in real time, e.g. environmental data or traffic data), as well as research data (data generated as part of scientific activity).

The private sector should take an interest in the new regulations as they make it possible to increase the volume of public data that can be used, for example to carry out analysis and research, or for the needs of AI solutions or the Internet of Things. They will make it possible, in particular, for public authorities to develop repositories, such as data portals. It must also be remembered that re-use of public sector information must be carried out in compliance with the relevant rules, including the regulations on personal data protection, in particular the provisions of the GDPR.