Wanted: laws that support citizen science data collection
May 18, 2015 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Apparently a new law passed in Wyoming last week. Called The Data Trespass Bill, the bill seems to be a ban on citizen science in the state.I'm looking for examples of any laws that specifically support or encourage citizen science data collection. Thanks!

There's more background here, here and here.
posted by tidecat to Law & Government (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately, I think the converse is the case. That is, I believe more regulation suppresses or restricts it.

For example, this is a story I worked on regarding naturally occurring asbestos and health risks. The relevant part relating to your question is a regulation that requires state approval before any information from the Nevada Central Cancer Registry can be published.
posted by nedpwolf at 10:01 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

As nedpwolf suggests, the disturbing trend in such laws has been to discourage dissemination of information considered inconvenient by business interests, rather than the contrary. See also Food Libel Laws for another example of legislation intended to stifle discussion that business interests find inconvenient.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:07 AM on May 18, 2015

Not sure if you're interested in non-US info, but In the UK, and also other EU members, citizen science is becoming more and more supported - it's seen as a way for governments to make use of data they haven't collected to save taxpayer money. See also data.gov.uk. I'm on my phone, but you can google examples, or memail me for links.
posted by mgrrl at 12:10 PM on May 18, 2015

How does the Wyoming law skirt the clear intent and meaning of the First Amendment? Asking for a friend.
posted by musofire at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

If I read it correctly, it's not criminalizing the actual speech - telling someone what you found. It's criminalizing actually collecting the data without permission from the landowner, or whoever else is responsible for the place you do the collecting. It's basically a law against trespassing weaponized by corporate interests.
posted by Naberius at 12:52 PM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Wyoming law requires you to get permission prior to data collection (reasonable by most counts). It doesn't prohibit you from gathering the data or publishing it.

In practice, if you were trying to gather data on things like nitrogen runoff in streams though it might be difficult to do, as the people engaging in the activity aren't going to exactly be inviting you on their land.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:14 PM on May 18, 2015

Yeah, it looks like this is less criminalizing citizen science, and more criminalizing adversarial citizen science against landowners like corporations.
posted by corb at 1:11 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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