Open Letter to the French Minister for the Economy and Finance on Open Data

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Read the signed pdf version here

Mr Michel Sapin,

French Minister for the Economy and Finance,

139, Rue de Bercy

75012 Paris

Dear Minister,

As Publish What You Pay ‘Data Extractors’, we are writing as a group of civil society
activists from around the world, united in our desire to use data from the oil, mining and
gas industries to hold governments and companies to account, and to ensure that citizens
in each of our countries are well-informed about, and involved in, decision-making
processes around natural resources. We have spent much of the past year examining
different sources of extractives data, and working on the application of a range of data
tools to make the data more publicly accessible, comprehensible and meaningful.

In advance of France’s hosting of the Open Government Partnership Summit in Paris, we
have been analysing the first reports on payments to governments submitted by extractive
companies in accordance with the EU Accounting and Transparency Directives as
transposed into both French and UK legislation.

Our analysis of reports under the French legislation has been made difficult by the lack of
a centralised repository and by the format of reporting used by companies. Unlike the UK,
France has not so far required extractive companies to disclose their payments in open
data and machine-readable format, and has not currently created a central electronic
platform where companies’ payments to governments reports are uploaded and can be
accessed by users. Companies subject to the French legislation are therefore left to publish
their report in PDF format only, on their own website or as a stand-alone publication on
the web.

This lack of a central platform in France makes it difficult for data users to locate French
extractive companies’ reports and to effectively monitor all the data available in the public
domain. To extract, copy or make use of data from a PDF requires time, training and
sometimes expensive computer programs. A central platform featuring company
disclosures in open formats (as defined by the Open Definition) would greatly increase
usability, encourage genuine interaction with the data, and make civil society scrutiny
much easier. Open data must become the global standard.

We urge the French government to reconsider its position on extractives data. This
December’s OGP Summit in Paris would be an ideal opportunity for France to announce
that it will require, as soon as possible, French registered and publicly listed extractive
companies to report their payments to governments via a central public-access electronic
platform and using an open and machine-readable data format.

Yours sincerely,

Copy : Mr Jean-Vincent Placé, Secrétaire d’Etat à la Simplification

The Data Extractors Team

Quentin Parrinello, Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez – France

Meliana Lumbantuoran, Publish What You Pay – Indonesia

Miles Litvinoff, Publish What You Pay – UK

Marco Zaplan, Bantay Kita –Philippines

Jana Morgan, Publish What You Pay – US

Mukasiri Sibanda, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association – Zimbabwe

Dom Eagleton, Global Witness – UK

Waseem Mardini, Publish What You Pay – USA

And their supporters:

Paul Dziedzic, Open Oil – Germany

Joe Williams, NRGI – UK

Read our case study “Open Data: the extractive industries case study” available in English and French

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