Open Government: 3 Principles for the Obama AdministrationDecember 2, 2008 - by Donny Shaw
It’s clear that Barack Obama believes in the power of the internet to make government more transparent and participatory. His weekly addresses on YouTube, the interactive health care discussion he’s hosting on Change.gov, and his decision over the weekend to place all content on Change.gov under the freest Creative Commons license, all indicate that he’s serious about implementing the technology ideas that he spoke about during his campaign.
As the Obama-Biden Transition Team is settling in and establishing the tone of their operation, we’ve joined a host of other open government advocates – including Mozilla, Change Congress, EFF, and our sister organization, PCF – in sending them a letter to encourage them to take a few more crucial steps towards being truly open. For example, while posting videos on YouTube is a step towards integrating government information into the flow of culture, the platform doesn’t allow users to download videos so they can be remixed and used in new ways.
Here’s the abbreviated version of the three principles we’re asking that the Transition Team and the new government apply to their use of the Internet every step of the way:
1. No Legal Barrier to Sharing – Content made publicly available in the course of this transition — such as President-elect Obama’s videos, or policy statements posted on the change.gov website — should be freely licensed so that citizens can share, excerpt, remix or otherwise redistribute this content without unnecessary complexity imposed by the law.
2. No Technological Barrier to Sharing – A merely legal freedom to share and remix, however, can be thwarted by technological constraints. Content made publicly available should also be freely accessible, not blocked by technological barriers. Citizens should be able to download transition-related content in a way that makes it simple to share, excerpt, remix, or redistribute. This is an essential digital freedom.
3. Free Competition – Governments should remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas. Transition-generated content should thus not be made publicly available in a way that unfairly benefits one commercial entity over another, or commercial entities over noncommercial entities.
Please join us by signing on to these principles.