By Christopher Le Coq
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission presented legislation on Monday to open up access to public sector data, in a move that could prove valuable to developers of smartphone applications such as maps or restaurant finders.
If approved, the law could generate an additional 40 billion euros ($53 billion) in economic activity in the EU each year, the Commission said. For example, transport and construction companies may benefit from easier access to weather information and geographical data could be tailored for smartphones.
"Taxpayers have already paid for this information, the least we can do is give it back to those who want to use it in new ways that help people and create jobs and growth," said Neelie Kroes, the EU commissioner for digital technology policy.
The draft law states that the price of access to public information should be no more than the cost of releasing and reproducing that data. It aims to standardize rules governing access to public data by individuals and companies across the 27-nation bloc and may be in place by 2013.
France and Britain have policies on access to public information that could be used as a model, the Commission said.
The new law would not change legal protection on personal and intellectual property rights data.
(Editing by Rex Merrifield and Alessandra Rizzo)