On the New York Times Dot Earth Blog, Andrew Revkin writes about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and whether they are a burden on government agencies who must handle compliance. Revkin references my article quoting Stewart Brand’s full thought at the 1984 Hackers’ Conference – that information wants to be free and expensive.
In the article, Revkin includes a response from Chris Horner, a lawyer at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who has filed numerous FOIA requests. Horner explains to Revkin why he believes FOIA compliance should not be viewed as a burden to agencies:
Keep that journalist hat on and the telescope won’t so easily get turned backward, as to who has a burden when the public seeks access to that for which it entirely pays.
His point: information that is expensive to develop, and paid for by tax dollars, should be freely accessible to those who have paid for its creation – the public. That’s one example of how information can be expensive – true to Brand’s thought – and free in the sense that it should be freely available to those who have helped cover that expense.