Open Data Policy Guidelines » Guideline 1

Proactively release government information online

Most government information disclosure laws and systems currently in place, including right-to-know, freedom of information, and public records laws, are vehicles for reactive disclosure. Reactive disclosure means that a question has to be asked before an answer is given, and that public information must be requested before it is disclosed. Proactive disclosure is the opposite - the release of public information before it has been requested by any individual. This often means proactively putting new information online, where people are looking for it.

Open data laws provide an opportunity beyond improving access to information that is already open and/or public, but also to specify new data sets and records are collected and published. Policies should be specific about what “new” data can mean: in some instances, this provision can be used to require that that new data be created, collected, and released for the first time.

Examples of language for this guideline:

Here are examples of the language for this guideline as included in policies on this site. Please note that the selections of text below are imperfect, and you should check out their source policies to read them in context.