Flick Harrison on Wed, 6 Jul 2011 01:08:19 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Are the Open Data Warriors Fighting for Robin Hood or the Sheriff?: Some Reflections on OKCon 2011 and the Emerging Data Divide

Great article Michael.

This is especially interesting given our context in Canada, where "Access to Information" is one of the most contentious types of "open data" policies.  It sounds like the Open Data folks you met want broad policy change, but in addition to your worries about such policies often serving the wrong stakeholders, there are serious roadblocks to enforcing policies that serve anyone else.

When government has so many levers to replace watchdogs, claim executive privilege, stall requests, etc etc, it's clear that straight-up policy changes don't mean Open Data at all.


Canada's ATI laws determine what kinds of information the government must reveal and what it may keep private when receiving a formal ATI request, for example:


The ATI regime can be undermined by entrenched elites, event in flagrant violation of the law, when interests are at stake.  Civil servants who attempt to act according to the law risk personal and career consequences, while the government which flouts the rules not only rigs a hog-tied oversight regime but faces an electorate which either doesn't know or care about the violations.

The re-election of the Conservatives with a strengthened majority acts as a de facto cancellation of Access to Information law.  This was supported by a corporate media that let stories die rather than snap with their sharp teeth at the fleeing buttocks of information.

The Conservatives in fact eliminated a database of all ATI requests that fit the very definition of Open Data; a proactive collation that saved both researchers and civil servants time and money.


They seemed to face no serious repercussions from this.


* FLICK's WEBSITE & BLOG: http://www.flickharrison.com 

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