[MyData & Open Data] Introductions

Hare, Jason Jason.Hare at raleighnc.gov
Mon Mar 11 12:31:26 UTC 2013

Hi Laura,

This is Jason Hare. I am the Open Data program manager for the City of Raleigh and we will be launching our online portal March 15. I am very excited that you have started this discussion group. As I am sure you are aware, the United States has overlapping jurisdictions and public records disclosure laws vary from state to state. There are a few federal privacy acts but in general, the open data initiatives in the US have widely varying degrees of PII reporting.

I face something of a dilemma in which I have to balance PII redaction on our open data portal with our local (North Carolina) Statute 132 which classifies data subject to public records request.

Our local open data resolution was based on OKFN open data principles and I am doing what I can to protect PII while acknowledging that protection of PII in the real world, here is the US, is nearly impossible. For example, one can request information on permit data, lien and assessment data as well as business listing data. All of which contain PII data.

Our temporary solution is to have a person data redaction statement where our portal acknowledges that PII data (excluding certain categories) can be requested by any citizen for any purpose according to state law. Our statement says that such data will be made available through the traditional request for information process. The data sets on our open data portal will have names redacted.

I am not sure how else I can protect citizen personal data. The US, in my humble opinion, needs at least ethical and professional standards regarding PII data being made available through government websites.

I would be happy to email you are personal data redaction statement offline or if this group would like to see it and comment I would be happy to share it.

I am not certain how many open data professionals in the US are on this list but I would like to open a dialog about balancing the citizen right to privacy while complying with disclosure laws.

Feedback is welcomed. Thank you again for starting this group.

Best regards

Jason Hare
Open Data Program Manager
City of Raleigh - Information Technology
One Exchange Plaza, Suite 900
P. O. Box 590
Raleigh, North Carolina 27602-0590
Mobile: 919-323-2767
Office: 919-996-3599
jason.hare at raleighnc.gov

From: mydata-open-data-bounces at lists.okfn.org [mailto:mydata-open-data-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Laura James
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 4:32 AM
To: mydata-open-data at lists.okfn.org
Subject: [MyData & Open Data] Introductions


Thanks for joining this working group! It might be good to introduce ourselves and share our particular interests in this area.

Hello, I'm Laura, I'm with the Open Knowledge Foundation, and I've previously worked on internet of things systems and in higher education technologies, both of which are fields where privacy and data are both important and complex, so I have a long standing interest here.

A couple of people have asked off-list about what the Open Knowledge Foundation is doing in this area. The answer is we're not *doing* anything (in that we have no staff working on this in particular) but we feel it's an important and complex area which ought to be discussed.  As such we thought we should start a working group to provide a forum for discussion, and potentially this will lead to ideas for campaigns or projects down the line.

The OKF definition of 'open knowledge' is and has always been that it's not personal data. When we advocate for openness of data, we don't mean personal data.

Nonetheless, there are clearly questions about the level of privacy afforded individuals by many of the sorts of datasets which organisations may wish to open up - such as survey or census data. To understand these privacy issues properly, one needs a pretty good understanding of anonymisation techniques and how identity can be revealed, intentionally or inadvertently. Personally, I'd like to see the open data community have a greater understanding of these issues than it's perhaps had to date - starting the discussion and gathering useful resources seems helpful here.

In parallel, we have a sense that to further our aims of empowering people through open data, it would be great if individuals were able to choose what happens to some of their personal data, including the informed choice to open some datasets if they wish. This means that individuals would need to have access to data about them and the ability to process it and publish it under an Open Definition compliant licence (if they want). This helps build up the open data commons with rich and interesting datasets, which is great, but it's absolutely critical that it's down to the individual's own choice, and that that choice needs to be informed about the potential consequences.  The Quantified Self movement is one example where people measure information about themselves and in some cases may choose to share it; this is straightforward (eg if I weigh myself each day on my bathroom scales, that data is mine and I can release it under an open licence, a non-open licence or keep the data to myself).  It gets trickier once data is gathered by third party services, whether that's an online service logging my quantified self data, or the purchases I've made from an online shop.

So, there's two really interesting angles and the OKF would like to be in the debate, and to bring our expertise about open to the discussions about personal data, and to learn about these areas which intersect ours.




Dr Laura James

Open Knowledge Foundation
Promoting Open Knowledge in a Digital Age
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