Monday, 8 February 2010

Civil liberties issue?

There has been a great amount of discussion lately on the new MySchool website, and an interesting piece on it in The Australian of 30 January by Justine Ferrari. It is interesting that people have not often portrayed the issue as a civil liberties issue. On one hand, recent reports such as the excellent Gov 2.0 final report have recommended that government information should be made widely available, free of charge, for anyone to use. One the other hand, for information about schools the opposite has been argued, sometimes by the same people. But surely, the issue is the very issue that we in libraries have always argued for - the free flow of information. As Ferrari points out, the information is actually available, and the MySchool website just makes it possible to compare. 

For government information, the default must be that we can have it, unless a case can be made out that this is undesirable for some good reason. The argument that we might misunderstand, misuse or or use the information for purposes that it was not intended for is NOT a good reason, in this case or any other case. It is bizarre in a free society to argue otherwise, as the Australian Education Union (AEU) appears to do in a recent press release - action taken to "ban league tables" sounds like pretty straightforward censorship to me.

1 comment:

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