Fifty Shades of No

The excuses made as to why data cannot be opened are very predictable. An early example of capturing them was made by Chris Gutteridge at Southampton University in his Open Data Excuse Bingo. More recently, Paul Suijkerbuijk and Ton Zijlstra of The Green Land have developed their Fifty Shades of No - except it's currently at 56 shades and growing.

If Paul and Ton put a version of this on their own site I'd much rather link to that than repeat their work here but I need to be able to refer to it now and in future. Currently the only place I can find the list online is in a presentation given by Noël van Herreweghe last December at the LAPSI conference.

The point is, of course, that exactly none of these excuses stands up. That's not to say that there aren't issues that need to be addressed. Privacy is top of that list and any activity carried out on the public purse needs to be justified but the excuses here are all synonyms for "I don't want to do it." And that's the real problem.

Opening data, or rather, sharing data openly, offers enormous potential in efficency savings for everyone as well as the development of new, innovative and revenue-generating uses of the data. So enough of the excuses … you just don't want to do it, do you?

  1. Too expensive
  2. There’s no business case
  3. There’s no commercial value
  4. It’s private
  5. It’s secret
  6. It's our data
  7. We have invested a lot of money in this
  8. Link enough data and one will arrive at sensitive private information
  9. It's not data, it's information
  10. It will never work
  11. We don't know how to do this
  12. We don't have the right people to do this
  13. We need the money
  14. It’s not ours, and we don’t know who’s data it is
  15. No idea what the quality of the data is
  16. We don’t know where to find it
  17. It’s not our job
  18. It isn’t in the right format
  19. I am not authorised
  20. Who is going to use this anyway
  21. People are going to misuse it
  22. Image damage for the minister
  23. We are not ready for this
  24. Image loss for Government
  25. The data file is too big
  26. Not enough bandwidth
  27. This is a first step, we will see what we can do later
  28. We can’t find it
  29. We have no access
  30. It is out of date / too old
  31. We have it only on paper
  32. We don’t know if it’s legal
  33. Management says no
  34. We never did this before
  35. No value in it
  36. No time / no resources
  37. We will open up (but adapt 90%)
  38. It’s incorrect
  39. Commercially sensitive
  40. It is dangerous when linked
  41. People are going to make the wrong conclusions
  42. This is going to start a wrong discussion
  43. We can’t say whether we have it or we don’t
  44. We know the data is wrong, and people will tell us where it is wrong, then we'd waste resources inputting the corrections people send us
  45. Our IT suppliers will charge us a fortune to do an ad hoc data extract
  46. We have to be careful whit existing contracts
  47. Our website cannot hold files this large
  48. It's not ours and we don't have authorization from the data owner
  49. We've already published the data (but it's unfindable/unusable)
  50. People may download and cache the data and it will be out of date when they reuse it
  51. We don't collect it regularly
  52. Too many people will want to download it, which will cause our servers to fail
  53. People would get upset
  54. It’s very sensitive information
  55. We are not ready for this
  56. Tell us who is going to use it and we will make it open