Re: Proposed removal of the 'view only' access control
During the first round of consultation, the proposal to remove the ‘view only’ access control and make all non-sensitive species records downloadable raised some concerns. 35% of respondents disapproved of this proposal, while 52% approved, of whom 28% strongly approved. Several respondents have since told us that they are happy with the proposal to remove the ‘view only’ control now that we have added a control over whole dataset downloads. So, it looks as if there will be a fairly high level of acceptance of this part of the proposal after all, which is excellent news as it will make the Gateway a far more useful tool for ‘non-professional’ users such as students and members of the volunteer recording community.
However, some of you might still have concerns so I would like to clarify a few points about this proposal:
• Users will only be able to download records at the level of resolution they have been granted – e.g. if you have restricted public access to 2km squares with no recorder names or attributes, that is all that the user will be able to download.
• Users will only be able to download records for one species, or one site or one 10km square, the same as under the current system. If they want to download your whole dataset, they will have to ask your permission and you can refuse if you don’t feel their request is justified.
• Users will have to log in before downloading data and they will need to give a reason for their download, so you will be able to see exactly who downloaded your data and why.
• Use of downloaded data is governed by the NBN Gateway Terms and Conditions. I know that not everyone obeys T&Cs, but it will be easier to monitor this when we have information on who has downloaded the data and why. We are taking steps to raise awareness of the T&Cs and taking legal advice on how to enforce them.
• A big benefit of making the data downloadable is that users will be able to see the records on the screen rather than just squares on the map. Just because these users can download the records doesn’t mean they will – but they will still enjoy the benefits.
• I know some data providers are concerned that making data downloadable increases the risk of duplication. The main reason for the proposed changes is to increase the use of biodiversity data for conservation and research. This does mean that copies of records will be held in different databases around the country (e.g. by University researchers), but is that really a problem provided that the raw data are not passed on? Because the current system of access controls does not allow you to grant access to a geographic or taxonomic subset of data, a huge number of data access request are dealt with ‘outside’ the Gateway by passing spreadsheets back and forth – a better system of access controls could actually reduce the risk of duplication.
• We can add a control enabling you to ‘opt out’ of sharing your data with GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, although I hope that most data providers will see the benefits of integrating UK expertise and data into broader international initiatives.
If you have questions or concerns about the proposal to remove the ‘view only’ control, please post in this forum or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
NBN Trust Data Access Officer