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Tag Archive: open data policies

Make open data policy more participatory with our new crowdlaw guide

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Crowdlaw and open data policies are uniquely suited for one another: both are rooted in the principle that democratic government is a participatory and collaborative exercise. Successful crowdlaw processes require more than simply posting a draft policy language online, however. Our new guide is designed to help city staff make this process as robust and inclusive as possible.

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Worried about public comments on draft open data policy? Here are the most common sentiments.

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Inviting public comments on draft policy can be a daunting proposition, especially in the age of angry Internet comments. Knowing how residents in other cities have responded to draft open data policy can help make that process more approachable. To better understand that we took a look at the most common sentiments in draft open data policy comments.

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Where’s the G8 Open Data Charter Action Plan?

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G8 FlickrEarlier this year the United States, along with the other G8 countries, signed on to an Open Data Charter. The document represented a high-level, international commitment to open data and transparency. It committed G8 countries to five important open data principles, including making open data the default. The document required signatories to release action plans for implementing the Charter by the end of October. Thanks to a tip from our friends at the German chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation we've found that, so far, only Britain and Italy have released their full plans (Japan has a draft plan available). There has been no talk, that we can find, about the U.S. action plan.

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Boilerplate Open Data Policy and Why It’s a Problem

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In preparation for the revamping of our Open Data Policy Guidelines, we reviewed all twenty-three  of the current local (city, county and state) open data policies on the books since their debut in 2006. These “open data policies” ranged in form from government administrative memos ordering the release of “high-value” datasets to legislation calling for open data policy planning to the newest member of the open data policy family, South Bend, Indiana’s executive order. Our main takeaway: There has been a lot of copying and pasting amongst policies, confusion on common open data terminology, and missed opportunities for information disclosure, but best practices are emerging.

Copying and pasting boilerplate legislative language is as old as law itself. In fact, legal precedent is built on throwbacks, edits, and remixes. The modern day copying and pasting feature has served as a technological blessing in legal matters that require a high level of repetition, such as producing demand letters for common legal claims, or, for one of Sunlight’s favorite exercises of individual rights, completing a public records or freedom of information request. However, when copying and pasting enters more nuanced areas of law, such as contract or legislation drafting, significant complications can arise. Without the proper edits or engaged collaborative thinking required in policy drafting, the ever tempting copy/paste model falls short. Below we explore just how borrowed open data legislative language thus far has been and examples of where it’s been the least helpful.

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