The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

24 March 2008

Curses, FOIAed again

"Abolish the Freedom of Information Act," says Jeff Jarvis, and not because he wants government secrecy upheld. Quite the opposite, in fact:

Turn it inside-out. Why should we be asking for information about and from our government? The government should have to ask to keep things from us. Government information — every act of government on our behalf — should be free by default. We must insist on an aggressive ethic of openness. The exceptions should be rare: the personal business of citizens, national security, ongoing criminal investigations and court cases (while they are ongoing), and little else.

I wonder what Jarvis would think about the new Oklahoma rules, which require redaction of Social Security numbers, birth dates, full addresses, account numbers and other personal data from court filings available online.

In the meantime, I suspect that this "aggressive" openness is a long way off, not only because bureaucrats like to protect their turf, but because many existing Federal databases weren't designed to work well with each other, let alone with public interfaces.

Posted at 10:30 AM to Political Science Fiction