Governments Making it Easier for Citizens to Know the Law

From GOVERNING, January 14, 2015

Once tightly controlled by commercial publishers, legal codes are becoming more accessible online, thanks to the open data movement.

In 2012, Dave Zvenyach, chief counsel for the District of Columbia City Council, received a phone call from a software developer who wanted a copy of the D.C. Code, which contains all the laws enacted by the D.C. Council.

“I told him he could find the official code at the city’s library, where it’s stored in books,” said Zvenyach. But the developer wanted a digital copy and all the underlying data (the special language that allows text files to be used in different ways) that it contained. The problem was Zvenyach didn’t have a digital copy, nor could he obtain one because of restrictions imposed by the code’s publisher.

Read more about the decoding of DC’s laws here.