Government agencies, in many instances, have given contractors exclusive rights to the data. The government then removes it from public view online or never posts the data, laws and documents that are considered public information.
Public datasets that state and local governments are handing off to private contractors include court records and judicial opinions; detailed versions of state and local laws and, in some cases, the laws themselves; building codes and standards; and public university graduation records.
Much of the information collected and stored by private data companies such as LexisNexis, Westlaw or CrimeMapping.com is not available to the public without a price. The information that is available often is not searchable, cannot be compared with data from other jurisdictions and cannot be copied unless members of the public pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in subscription fees.