Dioecetes
Thursday, May 22, 2003
 

Access to Government Data

The Internet has made more people than ever before aware of the ease with which data they consider private can be found by others. One of more important principals of democracy is the openness of government records. Now, however, records that were previously open, but effectively closed because of the technology of the day (land records, courts records, and even pet licenses spring to mind) can be readily found and used for multiple purposes.

Dave Fletcher reports on a recent attempt by the Salt Lake County Recorder, who I've met and strikes me as very knowledgeable on IT matters, to introduce a bill in the Utah Legislature that would severely restrict the availability of such data. My personal opinion is that such restrictions could be quite dangerous and should be introduced slowly and only with much forethought. Openness in government is like freedom of speech: it often appears easier to understand and restrict than it really is. There are unseen consequences of even small actions that will be very hard to predict.

 
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