Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Government United States Your Rights Online

Bill Would Require Public Information To Be Online 139

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the common-sense-approach dept.
Andurin writes "A bill that was introduced in the US House of Representatives last week would require all Executive Branch agencies to publish public information on the Internet in a timely fashion and in user-friendly formats. The Public Online Information Act would also establish an advisory committee to help craft Internet publication policies for the entire US government, including Congress and the Supreme Court. Citizens would have a limited, private right of action to compel the government to release public information online, though common sense exceptions (similar to those for FOIA) would remain in place."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bill Would Require Public Information To Be Online

Comments Filter:
  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:36AM (#31569482)

    While "common sense" is terribly rare in government, "exceptions" are never in short supply.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zappepcs (820751)

      And it's a shame that transparency and accountability have to be mandated by law. This is the one step forward.... wait for the two steps back.

      • The "two steps back" are the industrial scissors you need to maneuver the red tape maze that is the federal government. Those scissors cost taxpayer money. Big government is like a black hole that sucks in money and spits out hawking radiation in the form of pennies.

        • Big government is like a black hole that sucks in money and spits out hawking radiation in the form of taxes.

          Fixed that for you.

          • The government pays me tax?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ls671 (1122017)

              > The government pays me tax?

              Yep: "In order to preserve total energy, the particle that fell into the black hole must have had a negative energy "

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation [wikipedia.org]

              See, it all works out, the government pays you taxes.

              By the way, we have just issued you a payment of -38,889$

              -The government

              • But aren't taxes the thing that the hole is sucking in?

              • by TubeSteak (669689)

                See, it all works out, the government pays you taxes.

                By the way, we have just issued you a payment of -38,889$

                -The government

                It must be nice to live in a country where roads, food safety, police/fire/ambulance service, clean water, worker safety, public education, etc come free of charge without any taxes.

                Bonus: The countries that are exactly like that, are only that way because the USA buys their oil.

                • by samkass (174571)

                  Bonus: The countries that are exactly like that, are only that way because the USA buys their oil.

                  And US states. Alaska is the biggest socialist government in the northern hemisphere, and the rest of the country pays Alaskan citizens cash for the privilege of buying their oil.

                • by cayenne8 (626475)
                  "It must be nice to live in a country where roads, food safety, police/fire/ambulance service, clean water, worker safety, public education, etc come free of charge without any taxes."

                  I don't think anyone really has much a problem with reasonable taxes to pay for the things you mentioned above (although most of those come from state and local taxes).

                  I think most people are getting fed up with the seemingly uncontrollable appetite the FEDERAL govt. currently has with spending, and the soon to be implemen

        • by geekoid (135745)

          You seem to have forgotten about the services it provides. It doesn't take in money and then do nothing.

          • Of course, I was just trying to point out that administrative overhead for any function in big government is notoriously wasteful. I also wasn't trying to say that I disagree with this public info requirement, just disagree with having so many mandates that you have to fill out hours of paperwork to order a pack of pencils (sarcastic example but you get the picture).

            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              A wonderful example of this is the public school system in America.

              On average the government spends about $6k per student per year. Private school tuition, however, averages about $3k per student (that's factoring the super-expensive schools, most are cheaper), and you would have a very difficult time arguing that private school students are less educated than their public school counterparts.

              So where does that $3k per student go, if not to educate the kids?

              One word: Administration.

              In a private school, gen

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by brusk (135896)

                Are you taking into account other sources of revenue for private schools? Many of them raise money from alumni and/or are church-sponsored and also have their administration done in part by the church. You simply can't compare the tuition to the cost (even assuming your numbers are valid; I'd like to see a source).

                And since it's timely: medicare is actually more efficient than private health insurance, and a LOT less goes to administration than at private insurers.

                • Medicare doesn't have a billing or collections department; it has the IRS. It doesn't have an actuarial process; it pays a percentage of what private insurers pay. These things help

                  As for schools, private schools have lower costs than public schools - in general. Private schools are generally better places to work, so they can get away with not paying as much money. (Indeed, sometimes teachers work there just to get the tuition discount for their children.)
                • by cayenne8 (626475)
                  "And since it's timely: medicare is actually more efficient than private health insurance, and a LOT less goes to administration than at private insurers."

                  And yet...it is going broke. And will likely go broke even earlier now with all the new additions to the program (new health bill).

                  Yep, model of efficiency. I can't wait till they take it a step further, and have my visit to the health clinic be likened to my 2-3 days when I have to go to the DMV. (Ok, I know it is a state thing, but still...just as mu

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by chris mazuc (8017)

                Check your facts [capenet.org]. The only private high school where I live is significantly more expensive than you claim it to be. Try $10,700 [smrhs.org]/year. And that doesn't include books, uniforms, or anything other than tuition.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Also, remember that private schools can accept whomever they want, while public schools have to take anybody. This makes private schools more economical in several respects. For example, they can keep enrollment steady, while the public school system has to be able to accomodate growing and shrinking enrollment. Private schools don't have to take students with expensive problems.

                Moreover, I don't know where you live, but $3K/student/year doesn't sound like the private schools around here. If there ar

                • by gmhowell (26755)

                  A mod point, a mod point, my kingdom for a mod point.

                  Quite the convocation of pod people, the private schools are, transcended in oddity only by the home schooled. When is the last time someone with 'special needs' attended a private school?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by c++0xFF (1758032)

        You'd think that transparency and accountability would naturally fall out of a democracy: voters should want to know as much as possible about the candidates so as to cast the right vote.

        Unfortunately, the opposite happens: voters don't care enough to demand openness, so the politicians try to keep anything damaging (and more) a secret. That's why this has to be mandated.

        • by jfengel (409917)

          You'd think that transparency and accountability would naturally fall out of a democracy

          Originally, "transparency" required a fair bit of work. Most government work was conducted on paper. Even just making photocopies of it required a fair bit of work, and indexing it so that people could find relevant things would be even more work. Disclosure couldn't be the default state.

          Computers turn that on its head. Nearly everything is done on computers now, and making everything available by default is easy. It should take effort to make something classified.

          Make FOIA essentially unnecessary: if

          • by skarphace (812333)

            Originally, "transparency" required a fair bit of work. Most government work was conducted on paper. Even just making photocopies of it required a fair bit of work, and indexing it so that people could find relevant things would be even more work. Disclosure couldn't be the default state.

            Computers turn that on its head. Nearly everything is done on computers now, and making everything available by default is easy. It should take effort to make something classified.

            Make FOIA essentially unnecessary: if something can be disclosed, disclose it without people asking for it. It's not like it requires work.

            I'll have to ask for a citation here. Almost all of the [federal, atleast] government still considers all official records to be on paper. They still print out E-mails to file them in their proper place. It's a horrendously expensive process that almost everyone would love to see die.

    • by jdgeorge (18767)

      While "common sense" is terribly rare in government, "exceptions" are never in short supply.

      "Common sense" is also terribly rare everywhere outside of government, and "exceptions" are extremely common in everyday life. The blame for this aspect of the proposed legislation in question lies not with the government as such, but the fact that there are people involved.

  • by poetmatt (793785)

    I wonder how loosely defined public information will be for this? Meanwhile what's the use with foia exemptions?

  • user-friendly formats

    What is considered user friendly?

    Word docs (but then you'll get docs with options such that only MS Word can read ?)

    text ?

    PDF ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      HTML would be logical, so it'll probably be PDF; governments seem to love PDF, not realizing that it's meant for printing, not reading.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by BergZ (1680594)
        Rush Limbaugh sayz: "Government loves PDFs because they aren't searchable".
        • by geekoid (135745)

          haha, mod +1 funny.

          I don't think that government agencies should be using PDFs, to say they aren't searchable is ludicrous.

          Did you make that up, or did he actually say that?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by BergZ (1680594)
            Rush Limbaugh: Democrats "have reformatted the [economic recovery] bill -- they've made it a PDF file when they posted it. ... And, so, you can read every page, but you cannot keyword search it. It's not a text file as legislation normally is as posted on these public websites. They don't want anybody knowing what's in this." http://mediamatters.org/research/200902130016 [mediamatters.org]
      • You want basically the original format whenever reasonable because conversion requirements will reduce throughput.

        A government document was usually designed for printing, making PDF the logical choice. If we're talking raw data, then xml, mysql, etc. are all more appropriate. HTML would be reasonable when we're talking documents presented on internal intranets or such.

        Imagine a word discussion document circulates through email with various parties making modifications wiki-style, but then a final procedur

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by c++0xFF (1758032)

          That brings up a good question: how are the documents (especially bills and amendments) created, internally? Do they just have interns punching away at Word documents or have they commissioned some sort of specialized collaboration software?

          Your mention of "wiki-style" gets my mind whirling with cool concepts for ways of making bills easier to share between congressmen and more open to the public.

          • Do they just have interns punching away at Word documents or have they commissioned some sort of specialized collaboration software?

            You mean, right now? Of course they have interns punching away at Word. This is America (TM). More specifically, it's the U.S. Federal government. So far as I can tell, there's only one major part of the federal gov't with a clue about technology: the FCC, and they're only slightly more important than Canada (i.e. no one cares).

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          A government document was usually designed for printing, making PDF the logical choice.

          Printing is for snail mail and forms; for a tax return, PDF would be logical. For a document meant to be read on a computer it isn't.

          If we're talking raw data, then xml, mysql, etc. are all more appropriate.

          A table is a table; use plain text, which is easily converted to any data storage format you wish, and you can then crunch the data using xml, mysql, or even NOMAD. Even a spreadsheet, if the data are in a single table

          • Even a spreadsheet,

            At which point you start fighting OOXML vs. ODF (i.e. *.xls vs. *.xlsx vs. *.ods).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jank1887 (815982)

        Aren't most printed documents meant for reading?

        Generating a (generally) fixed representation document in electronic format that matches almost exactly what will be printed, still preserves searchable text, and uses an Open Standard is now a problem?

        The Federal government is almost exclusively Microsoft office product dominated. Should publishing the .doc file be preferable? or MS's 'save as HTML' format? I believe Google has adequately demonstrated that PDF is easily searchable/indexable. Conversion softwa

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          All documents are meant for reading, but PDF is meant for printing BEFORE reading, and is a pain to read on a terminal screen. PDF is for layout, HTML for markup. PDF would be logical for something like a tax form that's meant to be printed out, filled in and snail mailed back (tax forms).

          Should publishing the .doc file be preferable?

          Not if they want universal access. Actually, I'd prefer plain text of it's data.

        • by jefu (53450)
          PDFs are pretty bad for reading in many ways. All the paging bits (numbers, margins) takes up space and the margins and flow tend to be inflexible, so resizing a PDF reader window tends to just chop off bits or add whitespace on the edges. Worst are double column documents which (especially in PDF readers with noisy toolbars and on monitors that don't have lots of vertical resolution) often mean you need to scroll to read the bottom of one column, then back up to get the top of the next one, then down a
    • Plain text would be logical. Then voluntary efforts can easily write automatic routines for extracting useful data.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:47AM (#31569680) Homepage
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:50AM (#31569770) Homepage Journal

    Some other countries have had laws like this for awhile. It's a kind of bill that I can't imagine either party or any politician disliking out of principle.

    • by zoney_ie (740061) on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:54AM (#31569846)

      I don't know that we have such a law in Ireland despite a *lot* of online information. Some Irish examples:

      Irish Statute Book: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/ [irishstatutebook.ie]
      Oireachtas (Houses of Parliament): http://www.oireachtas.ie/ [oireachtas.ie] (including all past parliamentary debates)
      Citizens Information: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/ [citizensinformation.ie]

      All very useful for both everyday use (particularly the latter) and political research (although it would seem our journalists aren't that interested in searching the parliamentary debates to dredge up interesting material - there's a *lot* there but it doesn't appear in the media!)

      I can see how the proposed US legislation if properly implemented might help (but might be completely unworkable). In the Irish case, those three websites are the tip of the iceberg as there are a plethora of official sites (even if for example citizensinformation collates and presents much of the pertinent information in one place). Most or all government departments for a start have their own sites. For a lot of government services, people have to act through their local county council - each of these has its own website (some are very proper and comprehensive, others are less so).

      Examples of the 36 or so council websites (you might check these e.g. for waste/recycling facilities, contact details for water or local road problems):
      Dublin City: http://www.dublincitycouncil.ie/ [dublincitycouncil.ie]
      Cork City: http://www.corkcity.ie/ [corkcity.ie]
      County Cork (rural south): http://www.corkcoco.ie/ [corkcoco.ie]
      County Mayo (rural west): http://www.mayococo.ie/ [mayococo.ie]
      County Meath (Dublin commuter/eastern): http://www.meath.ie/ [meath.ie]

    • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:06PM (#31570110)

      Did you not hear about the amendment that Al Franken proposed a few months ago? After the big public relations nightmare that happened, he introduced a bill to not allow contracts with companies that force employees into arbitration, giving up their rights to the courts in case of Rape. A whole bunch of the Minority party was against it.

      • by Improv (2467)

        The interests break down as:
        Such a law would be bad for business efficiency
        Such a law would be good for some conceptions of justice
        Such a law would be bad for people who believe in an absolute (or very strong) right to free contract

        It's not hard to see how people might go different ways on it. I'm far to the left of the democrats, and so it's an easy "yes" for me.

    • It's a kind of bill that I can't imagine either party or any politician disliking out of principle.

      You have a very limited imagination, then. I have no trouble at all imagining a politician disliking the idea of letting the riff-raff in "flyover country" read the bills he's proposing....

    • by pydev (1683904)

      Some other countries have had laws like this for awhile.

      Really? Which ones? I don't know of any.

  • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:52AM (#31569808)
    It's a great idea but I find it a bit funny that the legislative branch is not included in this bill.
    • It makes sense, the executive branch is the one actually doing things. The only thing such a bill would cover in the legislative branch is the process of lawmaking, which is largely done by Thomas already anyway, leaving the remainder closed by intent (whether it should be or not is up for debate).
  • ...anything we decide we don't want to let you know about.
  • by stoicfaux (466273) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:00PM (#31569984)

    What exactly is going to be disclosed that isn't already being disclosed? Personally, I'm more interested in what Congress (and the lobbyists) are doing than I am in the President, since the Legislative is the branch that actually creates laws.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Late Adopter (1492849)
      You're not interested in what Medicare is doing? NASA? The VA? FEMA?

      The executive branch is the one that actually spends this country's money (for the most part). It would be nice to see how they're doing what Congress funded them to do.
      • NASA already puts up tons of pretty pictures under the public domain. What more do you want? Itemized billing for all of the missions etc. dating back to Apollo 11?

  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:03PM (#31570060)

    if this had been in effect.

    Cough-cough, cough-cough, cough-cough...

    • by imakemusic (1164993) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:17PM (#31570322)

      That sounds like a nasty cough.

      You should see a doctor.

    • by stoicfaux (466273)

      What fiasco? The Public Option was removed and a compromise was reached on the Abortion aspects. Sounds to me like the system worked as intended...

      • What fiasco? The Public Option was removed and a compromise was reached on the Abortion aspects. Sounds to me like the system worked as intended...

        LOL!!!

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Yes, the system worked as intended. It lined the pockets of major corporations, and allowed politicians to pander to their base.

      • It still has the individual mandate. Without the Public Option, the mandate is worse than nothing since the health insurance firms now have a captive audience.

    • All this stuff was online and accurate information was all over the place. The problem was certain groups and companies spreading falsehoods about it (death panels?) and people being too stupid to recognize cynical lies.

      Had the fiasco been about the bill, it wouldn't have been about "yous gonna kill my gramma!" and the demise of America into simultaneously Nazi Germany *and* Russia.

      In other words, the problem is not the lack of information. It's the fact that people hear what they want to hear, or otherwise

  • by anorlunda (311253) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:04PM (#31570084) Homepage

    Why do all these transparency things only apply to the executive branch of government?

    I think it should be just as important to the public to know who lobbied which congressman and how as it is to know who talked to the White House about energy policy or heath care.

    How about emails? Is there any rational arguments why rules about email archiving and disclosure are different for the different banches.

    I'm afraid that the real answer to my question is that Congress always exempts itself from any kind of onerous rule. Just think how angry the public would be if they could read all those blackberry messages sent between members of the same party.

    The judicial branch may have better arguments for secrecy, but even there the default rule ought to be openness. Let them argue case by case to exempt different classes of records.

    All three branches would argue that public disclosure puts a chilling effect on honest deliberations. True, but all three branches need to deliberate to make decisions. Again, there's no reason to give different treatment to any of the branches.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why do all these transparency things only apply to the executive branch of government?

      I think it should be just as important to the public to know who lobbied which congressman and how as it is to know who talked to the White House about energy policy or heath care.

      How about emails? Is there any rational arguments why rules about email archiving and disclosure are different for the different banches.

      I'm afraid that the real answer to my question is that Congress always exempts itself from any kind of onerous rule. Just think how angry the public would be if they could read all those blackberry messages sent between members of the same party.

      Congress does often exempt itself; part of the argument, no doubt is "we're the elected representatives of the people and so must be free to conduct their business without hindrance. I guess there is some Constitutional validity to that; but I'd guess the real reason is they are afraid of what would happen if people really knew what went on and there was a paper trail to hold them to there actions. That's why they do votes that don't require recording actual votes (no one can prove how you voted); allow

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Because, Congress are the ones making the law, and they sure as hell aren't going to give up THEIR secrecy.

      Just like they've exempted themselves from this healthcare bill, or at least most of it. It's one of the first things they did, and nobody made a big deal about it.

      One thing you should be asking is if everything is going to be so much better under this bill, why doesn't it apply to the people who wrote it?

  • User friendly formats... pfft, they probably have a loophole to that and will put them in .pdf format :P.

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:09PM (#31570166) Homepage

    PDF seems to be the format of choice for this sort of thing. Indeed, in addition the Adobe's own reader, free ones like kpdf exist too and, for some reason, politicians care to preserve the exact formatting of the pages. (Yes, I know, lawyers need that, but they could — and do — just as easily refer to the sections and paragraphs...)

    But the format could be perfectly evil by, for example, prohibiting printing of the viewed document... For example, the New Jersey Fire Prevention Code [iccsafe.org] are deliberately non-printable — and even kpdf obeys that restriction (you can still print it by running it through pdf2ps first, but try to teach your mother that).

    On top of that, it is also too easy to just scan a printed page into a PDF — as a monolithic (and thus not searchable) bitmap.

    Is the law being discussed smart enough to address these two problems? I don't think so...

    • "But the format could be perfectly evil by, for example, prohibiting printing of the viewed document"

      Which is only evil if your PDF reader respects restriction flags...oh, right, in the USA that is required by law. Yup, bad idea.
    • by Dynedain (141758)

      On top of that, it is also too easy to just scan a printed page into a PDF — as a monolithic (and thus not searchable) bitmap.

      Running OCR on a pdf is pretty simple. Acrobat has that functionality built-in, and Google already does it for any PDFs they index.

      and btw... the new /. interface BLOWS CHUNKS

  • How about congress? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SWPadnos (191329) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:14PM (#31570278)

    They should make a law that requires transcripts of all discussions with lobbyists to be published.

    And define a lobbyist as "anyone who claims to represent the opinions of anyone else".

    • by Jawn98685 (687784)
      Wrong. Categorically wrong. Lobbyists, by definition, represent "special interests". The stereotypical example is the industry influence-buyer, with his wad of cash, free private jets to "golfing" getaways, etc., but any group with enough money to make the exercise worthwhile can buy influence too. Trade unions are a good example of the other end of the "who buys government influence" list. But the important point is that none of these groups, nor the government officials they "buy", are beholden to the ele
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SWPadnos (191329)

        Well yes, that's the point.

        It would be better to ban lobbying outright.

        A distant second place, and actually better in some ways, is to make public EVERY WORD that lobbyists and elected officials exchange.

        I realize that this would affect both supposedly "bad" and supposedly "good" lobbyists equally, and that's just fine with me. Neither should have the opportunity to influence our policymakers the way they do now.

  • useless unless (Score:4, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:29PM (#31570574)

    There is actually a lot of public information "on-line", but it is rendered almost useless because many .gov websites ban spiders from crawling through them and Google (and I assume others) obey this ban. I have actually found some information that was very valuable to me, but only because I found and followed the right links. These pages on a public website under the .gov tld were never indexed and could not be found easily as a result.

    I would suggest that the law require that spiders not be banned from open public sites, otherwise it is a sham. I would also suggest that Google considers who really owns the information on .gov sites and considers programming its spiders to not obey such a bogus instruction.

    • by bendodge (998616)

      This tidbit is far more interesting than the main article here. Can you cite some specific examples of this? I'd assume it's in robots.txt. This is an issue that could easily be rallied around:

      -X agency blocks Google! We want freedom of information!
      -We need to ban blocking searching!
      -Not much to be partisan about.
      -Not expensive.
      -Not overly technical.
      -A short, specific bill could easily fix it permanently.
      -Congresscritters might like it, because it sounds good - "I forced the government to be transparent!"
      -I

      • I no longer have the links handy, but in my case it was documents that the company I worked for had filed as part of an IPO (initial public offering, the process of taking a privately held corporation public). There was a lot of information that I had been searching for for months, all nicely laid out in a public document, and all still completely invisible to Google. But from what I could determine at the time (about 14 years ago), the practice of flagging such documents on .gov websites to keep them from

  • Which Bill? (Score:4, Funny)

    by dzfoo (772245) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:34PM (#31570646)

    Gates or Clinton?

    Or (Heaven forfend) O'Reilly?

          -dZ.

  • This mandate will likely result in little of value for the tax payers because it is a general mandate, not a specific one. Most of us here know what happens when you do that with a software project. Government is not only no different, but is often worse. What is truly needed is targeted transparency. For example, all Inspector General reports should be posted online unless their publication, **in the opinion of the IG, not agency** presents a clear and present threat to national security or danger to the l
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday March 22, 2010 @01:02PM (#31571110) Journal

    Yes sir, all relevant information to be published online.

    With regards to "Yes Minister".

  • Although I am almost rabid about the freedom of the public to know all things I wonder if anyone has estimated the costs involved in making all of the mentioned material available in digital form. It might eat up an awful lot of tax dollars.

    • Although I am almost rabid about the freedom of the public to know all things I wonder if anyone has estimated the costs involved in making all of the mentioned material available in digital form. It might eat up an awful lot of tax dollars.

      The cost of transparency pales at the cost of secrecy.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "Although I am almost rabid about the freedom of the public to know all things I wonder if anyone has estimated the costs involved in making all of the mentioned material available in digital form. It might eat up an awful lot of tax dollars."

      I don't think after the passage of the recent health reform behemoth than anyone is worrying much any more over the spending of tax dollars.

  • How about the House of Representatives (and the Senate, for that matter) propose a constitutional amendment like the following:

    Any member of the U.S. House or Senate, any standing President and any federal appointee, or civilian worker) that violates their oath of office (House and Senate "... support and defend the Constitution...", President "... protect and defend the Constitution...", etc.) be charged with treason and prosecuted the the U.S. Federal court system. Upon conviction, for House and Senate me

    • by brusk (135896)
      Nice, a vague treason law. Those are always conducive to the free expression of opinion in a democracy.
  • While I'm all in favor of transparency in government, I hope this doesn't lead situations similar to what is going on in my local. The county government here posts all tax information related to peoples homes online. This includes the current assessment, owners names, price paid, etc. And while it's all nice that this is available online, it has become the source of junkmail, and datamining by companies looking for folks fitting certain demographics. Fortunately, the county finally saw the light, and al

  • When the decisions were made about what government-owned information should be publically available, even telephones didn't exist.

    This meant that, if you wanted local information on who ownes what plot of land, what leinholder holds interest in it, and what the tax rate is, it wasn't all that easy to get. You had to travel to the town, pay a clerk a document fee, and wait while they go find the record and copy it for you. This was very time- and effort-intensive, as well as somewhat expensive if you want

  • While the bill stops explicit charging in future data provided to the public, it allows any existing "pay walls" to keep the public from _freely_ accessing the information over the internet to remain in place. It will be interesting to see how many future cases will be _*claimed*_ to have been covered by prior "paywalls" (fees, cost recovery, licensing for maintenance...etc...) agreements _if_ this law passes...

    IT certainly would never pass under a Republican administration or if the Republicans have their

E = MC ** 2 +- 3db

Working...