Baltimore Web Battle: Who Controls Crime Report Information?


In North Baltimore’s Homeland neighborhood, 914 of 957 households pay a $200 annual fee, giving them the right to vote, receive a newsletter, and get e-mail alerts about crime. One resident who refuses to join is distributing the alerts on a public blog called, leading the president of the sponsoring association to hire lawyers to help protect what he calls proprietary information, says the Baltimore Sun.

Who has the right to distribute or redistribute public information, such as crime reports, and can their contents be freely copied from one Web site to another, asks Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Hermann? “This should be public information so that we can keep our neighborhood safe,” says the dissenting neighbor. Th operator of the beeswax blog, says too many neighborhood groups hoard all sorts of useful data. “They say they want to control it so they don’t have incorrect information out there,” he said. “What happens in practice is they keep important information from the people. What the people of Homeland are doing is absurd. [] They’re making crime worse for everyone. These crime trends happen across city neighborhoods. It makes sense to share this information. That’s the power of the network. There’s a lot of crime going on out there, and it pays to be aware of it.”


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