World Bank’s Google deal threatens to “lock up data”

5 April 2012

The World Bank and Google struck a deal in January to make source data from Google Map Maker’s global mapping platform more widely available to the Bank and its development partners. The agreement, which was not made public, is “aimed at improving disaster preparedness and development efforts in countries around the world”. Writing for Global Integrity, a blog partially funded by the Bank, Nathaniel Heller noted that information submitted by the public to Google Map Maker is not publicly available. Furthermore, the blog argued that this undermines the Bank’s policy on open data: “the announcement strikes us as a distinctly backwards step away from open data and towards proprietary services that lock up data rather than liberate it.”