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Government agencies across the country are sitting on gigabytes of valuable digital data that could be mashed, mixed and re-organized in crafty ways by Web 2.0 entrepreneurs and public interest groups engaged in everything from government oversight, to providing practical information to Americans.
Yet, despite federal and state public records laws designed to make the data accessible, many agencies are fighting more ferociously than ever to keep data created with public funds out of public hands. In their battles to withhold information, bureaucrats are citing everything from copyright and trade secret privileges to privacy and national security concerns. And when they do provide data, some agencies charge exorbitant prices for it, ensuring it's only available to those with deep pockets.