Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Carol Tullo on free data: ‘what’s the point?’

Today’s Guardian has a piece in which the writer managed to corner Carol Tullo of the Office of Public Sector Information, to put the question: why not make data free?

“Why should we be gatekeepers? We have enough to do in our day jobs than to worry about what the local economy may find interesting.”

The default position of government should be to trade in information, Tullo said, adding that transparency and openness benefits government in many ways. She cited the non-political website TheyWorkForYou.com – which repurposes data from Hansard online to let users find out about MPs’ voting records, attendance and even register of interests – as an example of how making government information available can benefit society.

“The people at TheyWorkForYou.com have said to me, ‘we shouldn’t be providing this [site]. This is something government should have been providing.’ Actually, no. This is a perfect example of entrepreneurial private-sector activity,” Tullo said.

Except that the people at theyworkforyou.com point out that they’re not private-sector; they’re activists, showing what ought to be done. And they had to break the law in order to set up the site.

Read more at Make it work for us, Ms Tullo

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