We've rounded up some of the reasons governments cite for not releasing data to the public. We're asking for help now in refuting those reasons. You can read more in this blog post: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/09/05/reasons-not-to-release-data/

We're especially interested in how you refute statements like this: We should really be selling this data.

What's the best response when a government says this?

  • This may not be the most helpful answer, but I have to say it... "I already pay for it. It's called taxes." Ok, I expected a downvote...but at the same time...there's truth to what I said, so please remove it if you don't mind as I share some real info on not just how to respond, but how some very dedicated people do this and to an extreme extent...and to instead of figuring out how to get the data...get the data...and see many examples of their denials to learn from that were overcome. Muckrock.com. This is actually based on a github repo I stumbled upon that one could deploy for ANY governme
    – Taal
    Jan 8, 2019 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


Depending upon the situation, you could respond by saying

  • That violates the applicable FOIA law which usually says that records must be provided only at the cost of responding to the request. This might be substantial, but cannot, legally, be a money maker.

  • Even if it's legally permissible to charge for the data, the overhead of taking and processing payments is likely to wipe out any profit

  • The data that people are most likely to pay is almost always timely. The data owner can increase their demand by making a staler version available for free and charging for more immediate access. In the private sector, many economic indicators are free, but you can pay for the privilege of getting the data a few minutes before anyone else, ex. https://www.ism-chicago.org/chapters/ism-ismchicago/barometer.cfm

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