In 2016 the UK became one of the first countries to create a public register of the beneficial owners of companies. The UK register, called the register of Persons with Significant Control (PSC), has both demonstrated the feasibility of public registers and set new standards in publishing the data as open data, allowing others to analyse the data in bulk. While the UK register has been pioneering, there is much that can be learnt - both to improve the UK register and for others considering or establishing public beneficial ownership registers.
Many jurisdictions around the world are considering implementing public registers of benefcial ownership. Here, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions by policymakers and implementers about public benefcial ownership data.
Open data is digital “structured” or “machine-readable” data that is “made available with the technical and legal characteristics necessary for it to be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone, anytime, anywhere.” In other words, any user of open beneficial ownership data should be able to access the data, search it freely and/or download it as structured data – for example, a .csv file that can be imported into Excel – , and use it for any purpose.
Inherent in this definition is that the data should be accessible to the public, which we cover in another briefing (“The case for public beneficial ownership data”). Here, we briefly cover the benefits of publishing beneficial ownership as structured data.