Open Data and Official Language Regimes

19 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2015 Last revised: 26 Nov 2015

See all articles by Teresa Scassa

Teresa Scassa

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Niki Singh

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2015


The open data movement is gathering steam globally, and it has the potential to transform relationships between citizens, the private sector and government. To date, little or no attention has been given to the particular challenge of realizing the benefits of open data within an officially bi- or multi-lingual jurisdiction. Using the efforts and obligations of the Canadian federal government as a case study, the authors identify the challenges posed by developing and implementing an open data agenda within an officially bilingual state. Key concerns include (1) whether governments may use open data to outsource some information analysis and information services to an unregulated private sector through open data initiatives, thus directly or indirectly avoiding obligations to provide information analysis and information tools in official languages; and (2) whether the rush by governments to support the innovation agenda of open data may leave minority language communities both under-served and under-included in the development and use of open data.

Keywords: open data, official languages, language policy, open government

Suggested Citation

Scassa, Teresa and Singh, Niki, Open Data and Official Language Regimes (July 1, 2015). Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2015-33, Available at SSRN: or

Teresa Scassa (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
6135625800x3872 (Phone)
6135645124 (Fax)

Niki Singh

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario

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