In a Federal Register notice, the Homeland Security Privacy office announces the publication — for a limited time — of four Privacy Impact Assessments:
SUMMARY: The Privacy Office of the Department of Homeland Security is
making available four Privacy Impact Assessments on various programs
and systems in the Department. These assessments were approved and
published on the Privacy Office’s Web site between January 1, 2009, and
March 31, 2009.
DATES: The Privacy Impact Assessments will be available on the DHS Web
site until July 6, 2009, after which they may be obtained by contacting
the DHS Privacy Office (contact information below).
Why the time limitation? Why can’t the DHS website provide an archive of Privacy Impact Assessments? More government information online means more information is easily accessible. During the campaign some discussed the potential for a more machine readable government:
But the big part of this is a commitment to making data about the government (as well as government data) publicly available in standard machine readable formats. The promise isn’t just the naive promise that government websites will work better and reveal more. It is the really powerful promise to feed the data necessary for the Sunlights and the Maplights of the world to make government work better. Atomize (or RSS-ify) government data (votes, contributions, Members of Congress’s calendars) and you enable the rest of us to make clear the economy of influence that is Washington.
This is the stuff of the “naive promise” of websites that reveal more. But at least it is a start. And it is a start towards government reports on their privacy impacts being online, indexed by search engines, and easily found by individuals.