Neil Kleinman on OpenDataPhilly: "it is not too late to demand that we have the right to know who is looking" - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 8, 2011 2:00 pm

Neil Kleinman on OpenDataPhilly: “it is not too late to demand that we have the right to know who is looking”

A look at global trends on transparency informs the local example.

As OpenDataPhilly.org moves on, adding new data sets from the City of Philadelphia and other civic agencies, privacy concerns are clear.

While no data on individuals, health providers, crime reports or other particularly sensitive material is included in the data catalog, University of the Arts Professor Neil Kleinman shared the following thoughts last month:

This New York Times article [on the sensitivity of personal data breaches] reminds us of issues we need to face as Open Data Philly moves along.

Open Data Philly promises much in the way of citizen participation in the details of the city – what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be monitored. It promises the ultimate in a system of checks and balances. It opens up the possibility of a new generation of citizen journalists, who can investigate the business of the city and the Feds without extraordinary access to resources.

Connecting people to data” is good. But let’s remember that corporations are people too. Just like us, they have access to “the data” – both public and private – collected in the course of doing business with the city or the federal governments.

Privacy may be dead. But it is not too late to demand that we have the right to know who is looking.

This is something the European Union understands. It has been developing guidelines that give individuals the right to know when someone has been poking around in their data – who’s doing it and why. For lots of reasons, the United States has not taken such an approach. When are we going to begin?

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