The government is to create a Public Data Corporation (PDC) to bring together public bodies and house datasets to be made available to the public and for commercial use.
However, it indicated that not all information will be free to access.
Cabinet Minister Francis Maude (pictured), said: "At present many state agencies face a conflict between maximising revenues from the sale of data and making the data freely available to be exploited for social and economic gain."
Creating the PDC will enable the conflicts to be managed consistently with a view to opening up access, and at best to be eliminated, he added.
The PDC will also have the potential to attract investment and will create opportunities for developers, businesses and members of the public to commercialise the data, he said.
The government aims to launch the PDC in 2011. Further work is being undertaken across government to determine what the PDC might look like, including which bodies and datasets should be included within it, it said.
In a recent interview on ComputerWeekly.com, Don Topscott, author of Wikinomics described how releasing public data has worked in other countries. "Prime minster, David Cameron wants cheaper and better government, release data is one way to get there."
This was first published in January 2011