Source code and data for AT4AM software

Nick Stenning made this access to information request to European Parliament

The request was refused by European Parliament.

From: Nick Stenning

April 01, 2012

Dear European Parliament,

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as
developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting documents which
contain the following information:

- Any and all source code for the software known as "AT4AM
Amendments Authoring Tool", developed by DG ITEC within the
Secretariat.

- Any and all developer-facing documentation for the above
software.

- Any and all user-facing documentation for the above software.

- A full dump of the database of "AT4AM", in an open format
readable by freely available tools (SQL/CSV/JSON), subject to such
minor redactions as are necessary to ensure compliance with the
applicable data protection legislation.

I have been referred to the European Parliament as the source of
this information by the Secretariat General. Please see
http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/sourc...
for details.

Yours faithfully,

Nick Stenning

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From: Registre
European Parliament

April 02, 2012

Dear Mr Stenning,

We acknowledge receipt of your request. You will receive a reply within
15 working days.

It would facilitate very much our work if for future requests you could
use the specific electronic form available on our webpage
https://www.secure.europarl.europa.eu/Re...
m.htm?language=EN

The system then originates an automatic acknowledgement of receipt and
the request enters our workflow circuit, which facilitates the
distribution of tasks and reattribution to the relevant units in the EP.

Thank you for your cooperation

Transparency - Public Access to Documents
DG Presidency
European Parliament

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From: Registre
European Parliament

April 20, 2012

Mr Stenning,

We are hereby contacting you with regards to your request of 1st April
2012 for:

- any and all source codes for the software AT4AM;

- any and all developer-facing documentation for the above software;

- any and all user-facing documentation for the above software and

- a full dump of the database of AT4AM.

With regard to the first three points, the Parliament would like to point
out that AT4AM is an application developed for internal usage only,
tailored specifically to EP business. However, we would like to bring to
your attention the fact that DG ITEC, the IT department of the European
Parliament, is currently working on rolling out a project to provide the
major functions of AT4AM as open source in the coming months. You can be
informed in advance of this development, if you so wish.

With regard to the last point (full dump of the data base), the Parliament
is not able to provide you with the information as requested, for obvious
reasons of security in terms of the data that is stored as part of the
Parliament's ongoing amendment-making process. 

Please let us know if you are interested in receiving more information
about the above development. Indeed, DG ITEC would be more than happy to
keep you informed of the project.  A workshop is currently being arranged
for the beginning of May, and a specific session will be devoted to open
source and the role of AT4AM - you are welcome to take part in this.

 
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& Relations with Interest Representaives Unit - European Parliament  
[1]http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/r...

 

 

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From: Nick Stenning

May 06, 2012

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your response of 20th April 2012 to my request for
the source code and data for AT4AM, your internal amendment
authoring tool.

Thank you also for your offer to keep me informed about the
activities of DG ITEC with respect to the development of AT4AM. I
would like to take you up on this, and if you could provide an
appropriate email address, I will contact the relevant parties
outside the the FoI process.

I am afraid, however, that I must request a confirmatory
application for my original request, as I am not satisfied with
your response that "AT4AM is an application developed for internal
usage only, tailored specifically to EP business". I am aware of
the internal status of AT4AM; indeed it would be rare for a request
such as mine to refer to documents that were *not* considered
"internal".

I would like you to release the requested documents. Regulation
1049/2001 provides for a refusal of request on a clearly defined
and limited set of grounds. Articles 4 and 9 of the regulation
provide for refusal where release of the requested documents would
either:

- not be in the public interest (specifically on matters of
defense,
security, and international relations)
- violate existing privacy laws
- undermine the protections provided by intellectual property law
- undermine the owning institution's decision-making processes
- contravene of a document's classified status

Moreover, I draw your attention to the introductory paragraphs of
the regulation, where it is stated that "wider access should be
granted to documents in cases where the institutions are acting in
their legislative capacity". I note that as an amendment authoring
tool, AT4AM forms a crucial part of the legislative process of the
European Parliament, and as such should be given specially careful
consideration for release.

Lastly, in response to the grounds provided for refusal to release
the database for AT4AM, I refer you to Article 4, Paragraph 6 of
Regulation 1049/2001, as well as the wording of my initial request.
I understand that their may be some content in the database which
must be redacted in order to comply with data protection
legislation, but I request that you release the parts of the
database where this consideration does not apply.

As such, please consider this email a request for a confirmatory
application.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Stenning

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From: Registre
European Parliament

May 07, 2012

Dear Mr Stenning,

We acknowledge receipt of your request. You will receive a reply within 15
working days.

Transparency - Public Access to Documents
DG Presidency
European Parliament  

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From: Registre
European Parliament

May 31, 2012

Dear Mr Stenning,

Parliament is hereby contacting you in relation to your request for documents dated 6 May 2012. Due to the nature of your request, thousands of files remain to be verified by our services.

Taking advantage of this communication, we would like to inform you at this stage, of Parliament's consideration of your request of 6 May 2012 as a clarification of your initial request. Indeed, exchanges held between the Parliament and yourself have taken place in the framework of Article 6.2 and 6.3 of Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001. Parliament has yet to take a formal initial decision relative to your request.

We hope you will find this to your advantage, as within 15 days of receipt of Parliament's decision on your initial application you will still be given the opportunity to submit a confirmatory application for reconsideration, if you deem it necessary in the light of the content of the letter you will receive.

Furthermore, in accordance with Article 6 of Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001, we would like to ask for additional clarification as to your request for the content of the AT4AM database ("a full dump of the database of AT4AM, in an open format readable by freely available tools..."). Indeed, the database contains data under the following categories:

- (technical) data exclusively relating to the IT application as such;
- texts which contain amendments (at various stages of authorship) relating to the legislative process of the European Parliament;
- personal data of Members of the European Parliament;
- data concerning the legislative process.

Public disclosure of the different items has to be examined in the light of Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 on a case by case basis with a view to giving the largest possible access.

We note however that you have already indicated in your email of 6 May 2012 that you are not requesting disclosure of any personal data contained in the database (see indent 3 above).
Could you please specify therefore which of the other three categories you were referring to, or indeed if you request all three?

The deadline for treatment of your initial request will start at reception by Parliament of your precisions, as requested above.

Kind regards,

Public Register

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Directorate for the Library and Document Management

Transparency - Public Access to Documents

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From: Nick Stenning

June 09, 2012

Dear Registre,

In reply to your request for clarification of what data I am
requesting, you identified the following areas:

1. (technical) data exclusively relating to the IT application as
such;
2. texts which contain amendments (at various stages of authorship)
relating to the legislative process of the European Parliament;
3. personal data of Members of the European Parliament;
4. data concerning the legislative process.

You are correct that I am not requesting any personal data of MEPs
(point 3), EXCEPT that necessary to resolve the *identities* of
MEPs/staffers who are responsible for amendments/contributions in
the AT4AM database. i.e. please do not anonymise the amendments
databases in a way that makes it impossible to link a particular
amendment and the responsible public official.

And with regard to points 1, 2, and 4, I will make a few
clarifications:

1. the software source code of AT4AM and any associated developer
and/or user documentation
2. any and all amendment texts referenced internally or externally
by the AT4AM application
4. any other documentation or metadata associated directly with the
operation of the AT4AM software.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Stenning

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From: Registre
European Parliament

June 11, 2012

Dear Mr Stenning,

Thank you for your clarifications, we now consider your initial request complete.
You will receive an official response within 15 working days.

However, we note that you have introduced a new request: "any other documentation or metadata associated directly with the operation of the AT4AM software".
This request will be dealt with seperately under the reference A4930b, and we will need you to provide further clarification before dealing with this request.
Could you please provide examples.
Kind regards,

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Transparency - Public Access to documents
& Relations with Interest Representaives Unit - European Parliament
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/r...

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From: Nick Stenning

June 11, 2012

Dear Registre,

I would like to clarify that point 4 in my previous email was
intended to be a clarification of my original request, and not a
new request requiring clarification itself. As such, I think the
simplest way to proceed is to cancel request A4930b and concentrate
on delivering the source code, documentation, and data referenced
by my original request.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Stenning

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From: Registre
European Parliament

June 12, 2012

Dear Mr Stenning,

Thank you for your reply.
We take note of your cancelation of request A4930b.

Kind regards,

EP Public Register

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From: Registre
European Parliament

June 29, 2012


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Attachment 2012 2906 D 311177 SG.pdf
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Dear Mr Stenning,

 

Please find attached a note signed by the Secretary-General concerning
your request for documents of April 1st 2012, as well as the
clarifications you made on  May 6th and June 11th 2012.

Best regards,

 

.
European Parliament
Transparency - Public Access to documents  
& Relations with Interest Representaives Unit - European Parliament  
[1]http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/r...

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Walter Stanish left an annotation (August 06, 2012)

Quote-marks As a citizen I am concerned that it seems to set a very worrying precedent for this body to suggest that source code is something "technical" and therefore excluded from public view.

Source code is nothing but the formalisation of organisational processes with respect to information. One might then posit that freedom of information should thus apply at least equally to software as to paper documents (which much of the developed world is routinely replacing with software and databases at an accelerating pace). The mention of databases within the referenced documentation clearly identifies such an interpretation as within the spirit of the freedom of information mandate.

Whilst "early" 2013 seems a reasonable time frame for the body to release the source code, they should probably have been much clearer about requesting such an extension to the regular compliance timeframe and the proposed date of release instead of, as it appears from the correspondence available, spending time talking the request to death without actually addressing it.

Definitely not a great example of an FOI outcome as it stands.

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