After three years of legal battle, Gong has finally received HBOR bank loan data

Gong finally received data on HBOR’s loans from the bank’s establishment in 1992, until the end of 2018, three years after we requested them based on the right of access to information. By the decision of the Information Commissioner, which was also confirmed by the High Administrative Court, after three years of resistance, HBOR was forced to share its data, but not in the open format we requested.

The Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development initially refused to provide us with the data, but the Information Commissioner Zoran Pičuljan, to whom we complained, resolved the case in our favor. HBOR then appealed to the High Administrative Court, but at the end of this legal saga, the court ruled in favor of the Commissioner and Gong.

Data on loans was listed on 552 pages of closed PDF format, the total amount of loan placements is 109.3 billion kuna, and the table contains data on the program, user and amount of loans. At the Open Data Hackathon, which will take place from March 4th – 6th, one of the challenges will be to edit the table with data on HBOR’s loans.

Although the development bank provided us with documents through our platform, they emphasized that the PDFs are not for publication because they are a bank secret. However, this argument has already been challenged by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia in earlier, similar requests to HBOR.

Gong was able to obtain the data by invoking the Right to Access Information Act, which requires public authorities to provide information on allocated public money. However, a new bill is in the process, according to which Gong would have a harder time accessing the data, even when it took three years with the current, less rigid legal basis. Namely, the legal amendment envisages a longer and more uncertain procedure, given that the test of proportionality and public interest is introduced, even when it comes to spending public money.

In addition, the amendments to the Law, the final version of which the Government has not yet submitted to the parliamentary debate, envisage the possibility of collecting open data from public companies and institutions that generate income on the market. Proponents of this change justify it by the fact that it concerns data related to activities outside the services of general interest and directly exposed to market competition, making the possibility of receiving documents such as HBOR’s PDF depending on the interpretation of the new Article 16.

Find out what experts Jagoda Botički, from the Office of the Information Commissioner, Mate Zec, from Biom, Hrvoje Bogner, from OpenStreetMaps, and Melisa Skender, from Gong, think about such changes to the law at the Open Data Day conference’s “Data only for the rich” panel, on Friday 4 March 4th, Friday, 2022.

More about this years’ Open Data Day HERE.


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