President Trump has signed the Open Government Data Act into law.
This is of course an important point for those interested in the use of AI as it allows for a vital source of data (see what I did there, well vs wall) available in a consistent, orderly fashion. This replaces the executive order in respect of the same subject matter issued under President Obama and, in terms of regulation of AI, is an important step because it places the raw materials (at least those that come from the government) under black letter legislation. By contrast, when one considers the other of the three countries that have agreed to open data mandates in their new unratified free trade agreement, we see that Canada’s open data remains in place by order and not legislation, and Mexico remains exempt from the requirements of the USMCA on this front for the time being. Evidently some in the US feel that a regulated atmosphere is more likely to encourage activity than detract from it–this philosophical debate about when to start regulation has been considered elsewhere on this blog.
The text of the bill is here. It requires data to be machine readable, open by default and of open licence or dedicated to worldwide public domain. An additional point not always raised in open data is a genuflection to seeking innovative use of the data. Ease of access is then to promoted via a single portal. Agencies are then tasked with the standards for providing the data and having a reponsible Chief Information Officer ensuring performance. As one would expect, the bill has more detail than an executive order and in particular, given the newness of the subject matter at the time, the 2013 executive order (found here) might be described as much more experimental. The focus on innovation has to be highlighted as a new concept as it asks or at leasts permits subject agencies to leverage data to greater use including in partnership with third parties. This is a different tenor from many open data principles which end at principles based on passive fair sharing of data.
Free and fair access to government data is an important regulatory step that has to be included in AI regulation. MAGA!