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Governments are under increasing pressure to publicly release collected data in order to promote transparency, accountability, and innovation. Because much of the data they release pertains to individuals, agencies rely on various standards and interventions to protect privacy interests while supporting a range of beneficial uses of the data. However, there are growing concerns among privacy scholars, policymakers, and the public that these approaches are incomplete, inconsistent, and difficult<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2779266">doi:10.2139/ssrn.2779266</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/release/gokuyvoawrdvfienwdbwo2qbfq">fatcat:gokuyvoawrdvfienwdbwo2qbfq</a> </span>
more »... to navigate. To identify gaps in current practice, this Article reviews data released in response to freedom of information and Privacy Act requests, traditional public and vital records, official statistics, and e-government and open government initiatives. It finds that agencies lack formal guidance for implementing privacy interventions in specific cases. Most agencies address privacy by withholding or redacting records that contain directly or indirectly identifying information based on an ad hoc balancing of interests, and different government actors sometimes treat similar privacy risks vastly differently. These observations demonstrate the need for a more systematic approach to privacy analysis and also suggest a new way forward.
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