Sunshine Week and access to public information

There is no topic of more importance to genealogists:

15 MARCH 2016

It’s Sunshine Week — Is the Sun Shining Brightly on an “Open Government” near you?

Sunshine Week is “the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.”

As genealogists and family historians access to public records and “freedom of information” are critical to our success in documenting the lives of interest to us. Since many of the records that interest us are created by government entities, open government is invaluable.

Unfortunately, open access is often sought, as it should be, about malfeasance by those responsible for managing programs or providing services.  One can also use open access though to learn about more mundane.

And, threats to records access continue.  In the most recent IAJGS Public Records Access Alert – (US) Sunshine Week and the Right to Know – Worldwide, Jan Meisels Allen shares…

… This is a good time to look what is happening with the “right to be forgotten” and the tension between the USFreedom of Speech and the European Union’s right to privacy—which is being emulated in other countries.  How will the US First Amendment fare with the new requirements being imposed on information technology?

Whether it is the myriad of court cases and EU rulings against Google and Facebook, the impending EU Data Privacy Regulations or the newly proposed Privacy Shield replacing the Safe Harbor regarding data flow from Europe to theUnited States, the “right to know” is being challenged …

A reminder that access to information is not a given and that access we have now may disappear in the future, which is reinforced by “Sunshine Week: Session included attempts to roll back access” as recently reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA.)

Rejoice in the public information and records that you do have access to and also help ensure that such access continues into the future.

 

Editor’s Note: Related posts– National Freedom of Information Coalition (2012) & Should photographing public records be FREE? (2014) & NARA Open Government Plan (2014)

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