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?


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


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.


This is actually based on a github repo I stumbled upon that one could deploy for ANY government and there are sites like Muckrock.com deployed for seemingly every government out there too - unfortunately I can't find that repo.

It appears the key is, you force the issue using robots that are polite, legal knowledge, persistence, and in the end, it's the one with the most stamina that wins.

However, just checking out the website may blind you with what you're searching for :)

This website has data that I couldn't even believe they had, but I hope and believe it will help you with your goals.

Alternatively, zapier.io...and a bit of courage ("shock the system") - but that's as far as I'll go :)

  • I down voted because you opened up a 5+ year old thread with a not useful one-liner. The added information is not useful as Muckrock.com (et.c.) deals with FOIA requests while the OP asks a question regarding governments opening data and releasing it online for free. – user3471881 Jan 8 at 11:39
  • I will proudly wear my -1 on this answer then. Most good questions & answers are ironically the ones most highly down voted. Muckrock has multiple dimensions of information that could be helpful to the OP - it covers ALOT. – Taal Jan 8 at 11:43

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