The danger of transparency: A lesson from Slovakia |

The danger of transparency: A lesson from Slovakia

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A week ago I wrote an article about the winners of the Open Data Challenge. The winner of the application category was ("From Our Taxes" in Slovak), which provides an interface for users to find the people standing behind companies and enterprises that are linked to government contracts. It empowers citizens to review those connections, including contract prices and commissions.

However, it appears some people might not be very comfortable with the additional transparency this application provides. Apparently, one of the relevant company’s managers found herself in the database and took the case to the court. The court in Bratislava requested immediate censorship of some information, including prices in the application, even though all data displayed in the application comes from publicly-available sources. This injunction has been issued before any final verdict in the case. Zuzana Wienk, director at Fair-Play Alliance - the owner of the application, considers this court action to be a violation of Slovakia’s constitution .

As Irish politician Gerry Adams once said, one man's transparency is another's humiliation.  That's why open data, which can make publicly-available information even more accessible and transparent, sometimes doesn't come easy.

About the author

Marek Mahut - Marek Mahut is working as a system engineer for Red Hat Czech. He's also the chairman of the Society for Open Information Technologies ( He believes openness can make this world better. My posts contains my personal opinion only.