The point of publishing bulk data is so it can be reused as widely as possible. This is particularly true for government data, which belongs to the public.
Government agencies can sometimes also be concerned with ensuring the authenticity of their legal information - especially when the data might be seen as an official source. It breaks down into two major concerns: integrity (ensuring the text is accurate), and origin (proving it's official). A lot of people are used to the "wax seal" model of authenticity - the experience of opening a PDF and seeing that the document is signed and official. This model quickly breaks down for distributing bulk data.
The goals of ease of reuse and authentication are frequently presented as being in tension, but that tension is just as frequently overstated. There are straightforward approaches to guaranteeing authenticity of bulk data that do not encumber reuse.Continue reading