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New bill would preserve public access to public data online

Sunlight Foundation – “Today, Sunlight joins a diverse coalition of government transparency, data innovation, scientific groups and environment defense advocates in supporting new bipartisan bill in Congress to preserve public access to public data. The Preserving Data in Government Act speaks to a matter of of heightened public interest in the spring 2017, as open government data has been removed from the Internet during the Trump administration. The bill would require federal agencies to preserve public access to data sets and prevent the removal of those data sets from the Internet without sufficient public notice. You can read the full text of the The Preserving Data in Government Act online.

Why introduce this bill now? Here’s what the two Congressmen who drafted and sponsored it say: “Research data that has been collected using taxpayer dollars should be publicly accessible and easily searchable,” said U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), in a statement. “Small businesses and individuals rely on federally produced information for everything from long-term planning to innovative product development to help grow their companies and create jobs. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Gardner that will help ensure that taxpayer-funded data remains publicly and openly available for innovators to use as they work to solve our country’s toughest challenges.” “Once data has been published and made available to the public, it should remain available to the public,” said U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), in a statement. “Whether it’s a technology entrepreneur working on their next innovation or a retailer seeking better weather forecasting to help organize shipments, data is utilized to achieve numerous goals and plays a critical role in improving processes and our daily lives. I’m proud to work with Senator Peters on legislation that ensures government data remains readily accessible in an appropriate manner and that we continue to prioritize government transparency.”…In 2017, it’s clear that we can’t take hard-won progress quality, integrity or openness for granted. At a time when public access to public information online has become shadowed in doubt by reduced disclosure and increased secrecy, this legislation provides a vehicle to preserve and defend the knowledge commons that has grown over the past decades online. Sunlight supports this bill for the same reason we have advocated for the Public Online Information Act, the DATA Act, and the reforms to the Freedom of Information Act we celebrated last summer: they not only improve public’s access to data online, but create useful incentives and worthy principles for career civil servants and political appointees to be good stewards of our country’s knowledge. The updates to the U.S. Code that they mandate will enable our government to build a better foundation for the digital architecture of access and participation open data represents in this young century. We hope the United States Congress takes the Preserving Data in Government Act and the OPEN Government Data Act up and passes them into law.”

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