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Royal Mail Sir Tim Berners Lee

Royal Mail’s national postcode database to be privatised


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 19, 2013 | 2 min read

A national postcode database administered by the Royal Mail will be privatised along with the postal service itself, despite the protestations of web pioneer Sir Tim Berners Lee.

The government is determined to press ahead with its privatisation plans which will see the Postcode Address File, which contains 24m separate address details, pass into new ownership.

At present this gold mine of data is run by the Royal Mail at arms-length but is in strong demand from the likes of marketing firms and the emergency services who must stump up a fee at present to access it.

The database is valued at up to £900m and will be included in a flotation of the Royal Mail this October although access is likely to be strictly controlled by a new regulator.

Berners Lee has criticised the sell-off, claiming that the file represents a critical piece of ‘national information infrastructure.’

Speaking to The Telegraph he said: “It is disappointing that the address file has not been made public, a blow to the efficiency of UK businesses large and small. But we have hope.

“The decision has been made to leave the file in the care of the [privatised] Royal Mail. The Royal Mail may well decide to do the right thing and make it available as open data. This will allow the UK to participate in the explosion of location-based and mobile services happening around the world.”

Royal Mail Sir Tim Berners Lee

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