Brechner Freedom of Information Project’s Journal of Civic Information Features New Study on Online Crime Data and Public Access
The November 2023 edition of the Journal of Civic Information, published by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Freedom of Information Project, features a new study “Owning the Police: Crime Data, Copyright, and Public Information” by Jay Wagner of Marquette University.
The study indicates that about half of the nation’s police departments that post crime data online through commercial companies grant the websites exclusive control of that public information – curtailing the ability for other people to acquire and analyze that information for themselves.
Wagner examined 250 of the nation’s largest police departments and found that about two-thirds make their crime maps public through third-party companies, and of those, about half give the companies the ability to control the information. This practice prevents journalists and other members of the public from obtaining the data themselves for further analysis. Wagner notes that governments generally cannot create contracts and agreements that contradict state public record laws.
The Journal also included an article from Brechner Freedom of Information Project Director Dave Cuillier titled, “Above the Law? Disagreements over Agreements.” The article explains that an increasing number of government agencies are making up agreements, resolutions, and makeshift policies that hide public information, contrary to state and federal public record laws.
Articles in the Journal of Civic Information are available free online at https://journals.flvc.org/civic.