IGF 2019 WS #191
Public Interest Data: Where Are We? To Do What?


Organizer 1: Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 1: Paula Forteza, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Carolyn Nguyen, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Chérif Diallo, Government, African Group
Speaker 4: Sebastien Soriano, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Luca Belli, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 6: Lucien M. CASTEX, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

Organizer 1: Annie Blandin, French Digital Council - Conseil national du numérique CNNum (WEOG)

Organizer 2: Laurent Cytermann, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Speaker 1: Francesca Bria, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG) 

Speaker 2: Sebastien Soriano, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 3: Luca Belli, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Speaker 4: Chérif Diallo, Government, African Group 

Speaker 5 : Lucien Castex, Internet Society, Technical community (WEOG)


Debate - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)
  • What is the definition of public interest data? 

  • What are the legislative frameworks on the sharing of public interest data?

  • How to encourage actors to share their data in the goal of the general interest?

  • What regulation for public interest data?


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 12: Responsible Production and Consumption
GOAL 13: Climate Action
GOAL 14: Life Below Water
GOAL 15: Life on Land
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals


Public interest data also named as data of general interest can be defined as private data whose opening is justified by a goal of public interest - for example health or ecology.

Public sector bodies like private companies are adopting data-driven decision making and build up data analytics capacities. Statistical offices are reflecting to what extent the traditional, cost-intensive data gathering methods can be replaced by Big Data analytics. In a number of scenarios, public sector bodies could significantly improve their decision making using commercially-held information, notably for reasons of public health policy, spatial and urban planning, natural and technological risk management, managing energy supply grids or protecting the environment. 

In 2016, the French Act for a Digital Republic introduced a legislation on public interest data. Indeed, France has put in place the possibility for the government to request commercial players to give access to data they hold for the purpose of establishing public statistics. This is subject to a number of procedural safeguards, namely a structured discussion with the private operator, a study on the feasibility and opportunity of such request and a consultation of the National Statistics Council. The decision to grant the right to access commercial data is taken by the minister in charge. Along those lines, more authorities could be identified that could be granted such a right to access commercially-held data, while at the same time procedural safeguards would need to be put in place so that existing rights on data are being respected and compensation mechanism being devised. Similarly, enhanced access to commercially-held data for scientific researchers funded from public resources could be contemplated. Recently, new insights have emerged in France on public data interest in the context of the French general assembly for the new digital regulations. Moreover, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) gives new momentum to this issue, as the training of algorithms requires a huge amount of data.

If France is a pioneer, many countries and the European Union are starting to think about legislation on data of general interest. It is therefore time to think about a coherent legal framework for public interest data and ways to facilitate data sharing between economic actors. For example, the principle of circulation of data is written on the INSPIRE directive and the regulation on the free flow of non-personal data. It is also a priority of the new mandature of the European Union. 


This panel will propose a contribution to the framing of a common data space, which should make room for the opening of private data

In a first session, it will explore the different regulatory frameworks applied to the data of public interest, to open the discussion on how to define class of data to which access could be given, to public and private sectors bodies, associations and publicly funded researchers. Indeed, this panel will have drawn a complete picture of the different regulatory methods applied today to public interest data with concrete examples. 

In a second session, this panel will also discuss about the regulation on public interest data. At the end of each session, the moderator will then open the floor for interaction with the public to engage in a discussion about the future of legislation on public interest data.


  • Annie Blandin, member of the French Digital Council (independent advisory commission created to address all the questions set up by the development of the digital in society and economy) will discuss about the recent French debate of public interest data especially the environmental data. 

  • Francesca Bria, Barcelona's Chief Technology and Digital will discuss on how to give back the control of data to citizens and how Barcelona shows that citizens' data can generate public value.

  • Chérif Diallo, Director of ICT at the Telecommunication Ministry in Senegal, will bring his expertise on a State centered, traditional regulation and will be able to share with the public the recent framework put in place in Senegal. 

  • Sebastien Soriano, president of the french regulator ARCEP will explain how to give back the power of information to the many. Data is full of promises, not only for Big Tech but also to empower the many. By regulating with data, regulators can use the power of information to shed light on how markets operate, steer them towards the achievement of public policy goals and enable users to make more informed choices. 

  • Luca Belli, PhD is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) Law School, where he heads the CyberBRICS project, and associated researcher at Centre de Droit Public Comparé of Paris 2 University. He will explain the brazilian legislations and reflections on open data and on public interest data. 

  • Lucien Castex, researcher at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle and Secretary General of Internet Society France, has in depth knowledge of a variety of policy issues concerning internet Governance and Internet regulation. He will talk about the link between innovation and public interest data, with the case study of artificial intelligence. 

  • Laurent Cytermann, member of Conseil d’Etat France will introduce, conclude and moderate this session. He is an expert of public interest data in France. 

  • Marylou Le Roy, legal and institutional affaires officer of the French Digital Council will moderate the online participation.

The list below provides examples of the ways discussion and presentation will be facilitated amongst speakers, audience members, and online participants and ensure the session format is used to its optimum: Seating: The panel of experts will debate share their expertise and their vision on Internet regulation sitting at the same table so the participants can see and hear them. It will be an effective way to compare and contrast the various positions of the panel. The moderator will open the discussion with a general review of the policy question and then speakers will provide their remarks on the question and then address questions from the moderator. At least 30 minutes will be allowed for questions/comments from the audience.

Media: The organizers will explore the use of visuals (i.e. interactive presentation, charts) to animate the session and aid those whose native language may not be English. Experts who have short video material to share will be encouraged to help animate discussion and debate on these examples. Video material may also be considered to help engage remote participants.

Preparation: One prep call has been organised for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers before the workshop so that everyone has a chance to meet, share views and prepare for the session. A conference on public interest data has been organised on this theme during the French Internet Governance Forum on July 4th, 2019.

Public interest data are and will be at the center of the problems of the data economy and the data governance. The share of public interest data will impact the Internet Governance especially the relations between Governments and the private sector.

Online Participation

The remote moderator will be involved throughout workshop to include participation from online viewers. The onsite moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator during the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected and integrated to the discussion, specially suring the Q&A sequence. This will ensure remote participations are given the opportunity to interact with multiple experts remotely. Organizers have specially invited a participant to act as the remote moderator and will share information with the remote moderator about training sessions for remote participation at IGF and ensure they have all the necessary information. Co-organizers will ensure that the workshop is promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance. We can include the intervention from youth participants from Latin America and Africa to increase diversity and bring fresh opinions and questions to the debate. Any handouts prepared in advance for the panel will be shared with remote participants at the start of the session so that they have the necessary material to participate.

Proposed Additional Tools: The position of the French administration on public interest data are published on the French Digital Council website under the Creative commons licences. Given the varied background of discussants and audience members, organisers will explore introducing questions to animate discussion on social media in the run up to the workshop. This will introduce the subject, encourage conversation and create links to other dialogues on digital skills taking place in other forums to create awareness and help prepare in-person and remote participants for the workshop.

  • Introduction by Laurent Cytermann (Conseil d’Etat France) (5 min) on the definition of public interest data

  • First session : The framework of public interest data 

    • Reflections on Data of public interest : the case of environmental data by Annie Blandin (9 min)

    • Innovation and Data of public interest : the case of artificial intelligence by Lucien Castex (9 min)

    • Reflections on open data and data of public interest : Brazil by Luca Belli (9 min)

    • Q&A and debate moderated by Laurent Cytermann (Conseil d’Etat France) (10 min)

  • Second session : Regulation and public interest data 

    • State regulation and data of public interest by Chérif Diallo (Senegalese Government) (9 min)

    • Data-driven regulation and data of public interest by Sébastien Soriano (ARCEP) (9 min) 

    • Cities Driving for Personal Data by Francesca Bria (Barcelona's Chief Technology and Digital) (9 min) 

    • Q&A and debate moderated by Laurent Cytermann (Conseil d’Etat France) (9 min)

  • Conclusion by Laurent Cytermann (Conseil d’Etat France) (5 min)

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations
  • What is the definition of public interest data? 

  • What are the legislative frameworks on the sharing of public interest data?

  • How to encourage actors to share their data in the goal of the general interest?

  • What regulation for public interest data?