In case you didn't see it on the Drudge Report, take a look at the Government Information Awareness project. It's quite entertaining. I haven't been able to find home phone numbers for anyone yet, but I suppose it's only a matter of time.

So is this type of project a good idea? Well, all the information being posted is in the public domain already, it's just a matter of organization. Whether it's a good idea or not is basically moot, since it's already being done. The question really is, should society remove "personal" information from the public domain or somehow secure it?

Most people rely on a form of "security through obscurity" for their personal protection -- as long as no criminal has a specific reason to seek them out, the chance that they'll be a victim is pretty low. Public figures are by definition not obscure, so how are they to protect themselves? One argument is that they shouldn't be able to protect themselves, because they're supposed to be serving the public good and are, in essence, our employees. Maybe, but the fact of the matter is that publishing the home address of a Supreme Court Justice exposes him or her to far more potential danger that I would be exposed to if my home address were published.

It's impossible to please everyone, so no matter what policies a public official implements there are bound to be violently-inclined crazies who will be eager to take a swipe at a fat juicy target if the difficulty of locating crucial information is low enough. It's hard to justify suppression of speech on the grounds of potential danger, though, so I'm not sure what solutions exist. Senator Dianne Feinstein's solution is to carry a concealed weapon, but thanks to some gun-control nuts (such as Senator Dianne Feinstein) that option isn't available to all of us.



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