We won!!!:) Parliament adopted the open-standard amendment

On 14 December 2009, Hungarian Parliament adopted – with 197 yes votes, 1 no vote and 146 abstaining – the open-standard amendment proposed by us.

While this amendment may not have transformed Hungary into the Land of Promise, it should nevertheless be pointed out that we have won, that is, from now on the law states that e-communications between public administration offices, public utility companies and citizens have to be open-standard:)))

We have been fighting for this privately for three years (early 2007) and within the Alliance, from the start of the founding process 2 years ago, and a year after its founding.

Naturally, this is only the first step: there is much yet to be done. But let us dare to make merry:)))

After discussing the matter with the representative of the government, significantly radicalising(!) our original proposal, we submitted the following text (changes highlighted):

“Article 2(e) of Act LX of 2009 on electronic public services (hereinafter the Act) shall be replaced by the following text and shall be supplemented by Article 2(o) as set out below:

Article 2(e)
Administrative portal: an interface in the central system through which the joined organisation may access the services provided to it by the central system and which complies with the requirements of benefiting the public;

Article 2(o)
A portal complying with the requirements of benefiting the public shall be understood to mean an interface in an information or communication system through which an obliged or entitled entity may access services provided to it by the system if and only if it meets the following set of criteria

oa) which is accessible to anyone in exchange for a fee not exceeding the distribution costs, or free of charge, without registration or any other condition, can be used by anyone free of charge and unconditionally,

ob) achieving compliance with which is unrestricted by the rights of another legal entity or any other standard or technical requirement not in conformity with the conditions of the open standard,

oc) for which obtaining and using the information necessary for ensuring the interoperability of the products, services or systems is unrestricted by the rights of another legal entity.

Article 11(1) of the Act shall be supplemented by the following (e) and (f) points:

[The central system shall provide as a service free of charge (hereinafter basic service) the following:]

Article 11(1)(e)
Use of the central-system interface of the client portal;

Article 11(1)(f)
Use of the central-system interface of the administrative portal;

Article 16 shall be supplemented by the following paragraph (11):

Article 16(11)
The client portal shall comply with the requirements of benefiting the public.

Article 19(4) of the Act shall be replaced by the following paragraph:

Article 19(4)
The provider of an electronic public service and the manager of the central system shall ensure that the users have unhindered access, through a portal complying with the requirements of benefiting the public, to their personal data and any data stored by them in electronic storage facilities.

Articles 24(1) and 24(2) shall be replaced by the following paragraphs:

Article 24(1)
The users of an electronic public service shall be entitled to have access to any data relevant to them registered electronically by the administrative authorities, as well as to any document generated electronically in the course of the electronic management of their affairs and any registration data in the central system, by means of a portal complying with the requirements of benefiting the public, and any such data shall be sent to them on request. Other providers of electronic services shall make their services available through the central system also by means of a public-benefit portal.

Article 24(2)
Natural persons shall be given access to any data relevant to them free of charge, by means of a portal complying with the requirements of benefiting the public; the provision of other data can be subject to the payment of fees as set out by legislation.”

The Government made the following additional amendment – without prior consultation (but of no particular relevance to us):

“Article 31 shall be supplemented by the following paragraph (4):

Article 31(4)
The Minister responsible for IT in public administration shall be authorised, in agreement with the minister responsible for taxation, to set out in a decree the administrative services charges payable for certain electronic public services and procedural charges incurred in the course of registration.

Why is the adopted version more radical compared to the earlier proposal?

Because, instead of opening alternative open-standard portals in the central system, it states that the administrative and client portals must be “public-benefit” (=open-standard). Which leaves no room for manoeuvring: the definition of “complying with the requirements of benefiting the public”, as set out in the law, is equal to our definition of open standard, developed back in 2007 [in English]. It can be argued against, but only outside the legal system. (Apparently, the term “open standard” was not included so as to avoid having to amend the law on standards.)

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