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23 June, 2005

Who wants to know?

A Guardian article about Crown copyright (information owned by the state) contains the following statements:

Essentially, the deal is that information is free, so long as you register online.
Registration also creates a database about who is doing what with government information, though officials claim that no big brother monitoring goes on.

Firstly, I believe publicly-funded information should be freely available to that nation's citizens without restriction, so long as there's no compelling reason for it to be withheld (e.g. genuine, not contrived, issues of national security), and it's not reproduced for commercial benefit (I don't think independent companies should sell maps and weather forecasts based on Ordnance Survey and Met Office data, for example).
This is our property, held in trust for the collective, not the administrators' jealously-guarded property. Registration shouldn't be required; it's almost like having to ask permission.

Secondly; "no big brother monitoring"? And we're really expected to believe that?
Whatever; irrespective of routine practice, the state shouldn't have the ability to identify those accessing information.

The really scary part is that the journalist, and probably the typical reader, (unthinkingly?) accepts the 'authorisation' process ("So far, so good.") and moves on to a different topic.

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