Technology and Access: Promise, Possibility and Perils


In an era when neither unmanned drones nor global positioning devices qualify as futuristic, technological advances have greatly expanded the capacity for access and citizen engagement. But they also give rise to concerns about privacy and other rights infringements. Some agencies understand that "public" now means online and are sharing their data with the public. In other instances, citizens have pried it loose and shared it.

However, in the case of the gun database published by the Journal-News of Westchester, NY, or the controversial use of mug shots gathered by law enforcement, publishing without careful consideration and public communication can hurt the cause of freedom and give rise to unwanted new restrictions.

A panel of experts discusses techniques and strategies for getting data and approaches for presenting it in ways that don't risk future access to that data, and also examines whether government policies should take into account what the public wants to do with data or any other public information.

Panelists include: Daniel Lathrop, investigative reporter, Dallas Morning News; Barbara Petersen, executive director, First Amendment Foundation (Florida); Shawn Musgrave, project editor, MuckRock; Gordon Russell, Managing Editor for Investigations, The Advocate.

Moderated by: Mark Horvit, executive director, Investigative Reporters & Editors.

Speakers' biographies

The FOI Summit, a national conference concentrating on open government convened anually in collaboration with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), was held Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, at the Renaissance Arts Hotel in New Orleans.

Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana was the state-based co-host for this year’s Summit.

Please visit our 2013 FOI Summit homepage for more information and coverage.