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CFAC and MAPLight sue for public access

CFAC and MAPLight sue for public access to state’s legislative database, California First Amendment Coalition, December 03, 2008.

The California First Amendment Coalition and MAPLight.org have filed suit against the California Legislative Counsel’s office seeking a copy of California’s full legislative database–the texts of bills, amendments, votes, dates, etc.—for all legislation.

This is a particularly interesting lawsuit because, as the press release above notes, “Although the public currently can access this info one bill at a time through the state’s official website, that does not allow computer-assisted analysis of the data.” CFAC calls these “government-controlled databases” and they are indeed controlled by the government.

This case is an excellent example of why we cannot rely only on the government to provide the access we need to government information. What we want is to wrest control from the government so that government information can be used in ways that any particular government agency does not (or cannot) provide.

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