Open...but not without conditions!!
Posted by Noël Van Herreweghe at 05 February 2012 18h20
Some arguments sited in a recent article from Freek Balkena, on the Dutch site "Binnenlands Bestuur", could be labeled a classic example on the kind of thinking were so getting used to in Government and elsewhere!
The article gives us a view on the opinions of Arco Groothedde, a member of the board of directors of the "Kadaster", or the Dutch Land Registry Office. This organisation collects information about registered properties in the Netherlands, records them in public registers and in cadastral maps and makes this information available to members of the public, companies and other interested parties in society. Registered goods include not only immoveable properties, such as houses and apartments, but also moveable properties such as ships and aircraft. Put simply: Kadaster registers and informs; details are the input and information is the output.
Groothedde argues that "the Land Registry can play a major role in the move towards more open data, particularly in the geographical area". Then he goes on to tell us that "it can't be an option to publish everything". As always, there are many reasons to not "give us everything", whatever everything may mean. Privacy for example, an often repeated argument so popular with the "open data" critics. Never forget copyright and authenticity. Throw in a dash of doubt about data quality and you can rest assured the endless arguing on whether Governmental organisations should open up public data, or rather not, will keep us busy for another couple of months. Preferably a couple of years. Giving us, on top of all this, an example where things went wrong, and you're good for another heated debate on the issue.
In a recently published book, "Het Einde van de Privacy’ (the end of privacy)", Adjiedj Bakas argues that we will have to redefine the concept of privacy. "Privacy" he says "is a condition where a person was certain that, without his or her consent, no people would tresspass onto his or her property". "Today", he goes on to say, " society increasingly demands that we give up information about ourselves, for example to provide better services such as health care, public safety, agriculture- and forensic research, etc...".
I for one, would like to see some answers on things such as; if not everything, then what, and why not? What about clear and uncomplicated guidelines with regards to privacy issues? What precisely is copyright when we are dealing with data and information generated with public funds? Will data ever be good enough for public use? Shouldn't we precisely ask people and organisations to help us improve on the completeness or quality of our figures and statistics? What about all those things that proved to be of really added value to the community?
To be continued..