mySociety is an e-democracy project of the UK-based registered charity named UK Citizens Online Democracy, that aims to build "socially focused tools with offline impacts". It was founded by Tom Steinberg in September 2003, and started activity after receiving a £250,000 grant in September 2004. Steinberg says that mySociety was inspired by a collaboration with his then-flatmate James Crabtree which spawned Crabtree's article "Civic hacking: a new agenda for e-democracy".
In response to the EU Directive on Reuse of Public Sector Information 2005, the UK government created an Office of Public Sector Information to promote public sector information reuse. OPSI now runs a government data unlocking service to help people find and reuse government data with licensing or format restrictions.
In March 2006 The Guardian started a "Free our Data" campaign, which got Inspire a proposal for free open geodata, passed into EU law.
In April 2007, Cabinet Office Minister Hilary Armstrong commissioned Ed Mayo and mySociety director Tom Steinberg to draft a "Power of Information Review" on how the government could serve the public's information needs better. The resulting report led Cabinet Minister Tom Watson, MP to create a Power of Information Task Force. They launched the ShowUsABetterWay competition to award £20,000 to the best application reusing public government data.