[okfn-discuss] what are the arguments against open data

Mike Linksvayer ml at gondwanaland.com
Tue Oct 22 08:38:55 BST 2013

On Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM, Gene Shackman <eval_gene at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Ewan Klein asked an excellent question on identifying specific
> demonstrations of the benefits of open data. That made me wonder about a
> related question: what are the arguments against open data?

Good thread.

I'm surprised nobody mentioned open data as openwashing, by now
famously described in The New Ambiguity of 'Open Government' (2012)
http://ssrn.com/abstract=2012489 (I imagine similar must've been said
about open data vis-a-vis open education, science, etc. also). I
suspect open data broadly will on net increase demand for its subset
which is pertinent to accountability, but one could suspect
differently and take as an argument against open data, period. I try
to take the critique to heart, eg by trying to avoid the conflating
term "open government data" (and I secretly cringe at the name of open
government licenses). I'm sure activists such as those on this list
are well aware of the potential problem, and was heartened today to
read one of the leading activists where I live directly address it in
... but I wouldn't expect that to hold at the level of politicians,
nor as the idea(s) of open [government] data spread around the world,
not without a lot of vigilance.

Another argument not yet mentioned against "open data", conceptually
rather than against any dataset being opened, is emphasis of formal
"open data" on legal and (to a lesser extent) technical ...
technicalities, perhaps leading people to be more timid and tentative
about using and sharing data than if they'd never heard of open data.

But these are not objections one is likely to hear from an entity that
merely doesn't want to open whatever data they are being asked to
open. :)


More information about the okfn-discuss mailing list