Berners-Lee: Cuts no excuse to cut back data

The founder of the World Wide Web criticises US claims open data sites need to be cut back due to costs.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned against using the recession as an excuse to close off Government data, calling it a "weak argument."

Speaking at the launch of the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) UK and Ireland office in Oxford yesterday - attended by IT PRO - Berners-Lee showed concern around US proposals to stop publishing certain Government data sets as it takes up too much funding.

"I think there will be a lot of pressure in the US," he said. "What would be a shame is if people use the clamp on money to be lazy, not transparent and keep data, which they damn well should put out there."

Berners-Lee argued keeping the data in-house wouldn't even save the US Government any cash.

"Nowadays if you want to store something, it is just as easy to store it publicly and if you store it publicly then you don't have to worry about security," he added.

"It is actually more expensive [keeping it internally]. The argument that [they would be] saving money to keep it private is a weak one."

The founder of the web also claimed transparency was at its most important during a time of economic downturn.

"When you are cutting back, I think transparency in the cut backs is more important," he said. "It becomes less of a luxury to keep [data] back."

"I encourage members of the press [and public] to keep pushing for it."

Berners-Lee has long campaigned for open data from Government and played an instrumental role in the launch of the UK's data.gov.uk website, making thousands of data sets containing information gathered on the UK and its citizens publicly available.

He claimed the UK was more transparent with how it spent its money than the US though, and once those on the other side of the Atlantic got a taste of it, "the public [won't] let them retreat."

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