data representations

The government of Washington, DC, provides real-time data feeds on crime, building permits, housing code enforcement, public space permits, and property registrations. The data includes geo-codes so that it can be easily mapped.

The terms of use for these important data resources state:

Neither the District of Columbia Government nor the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) makes any claims as to the completeness, accuracy or content of any data contained in this application; makes any representation of any kind, including, but not limited to, warranty of the accuracy or fitness for a particular use; nor are any such warranties to be implied or inferred with respect to the information or data furnished herein.

So you can look at the data it provides, but the DC government makes no claims as to the “content of any data.” In presenting these data, the DC government does not make “any representation of any kind.” If that were literally true, then there is no data. If there’s no data, then there’s no liability. That’s a clever way to share data to foster a more informed public.

In the terms of use for this blog, I had set out a less artful disclaimer. I’ve now appended to it essentially the above text. Read it and weep for our legal culture.

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