Access and privacy of distributed land related information
As information technology evolves and the perception of the value of information changes, the legal solutions designed to provide checks and balances for qualities such as information access and privacy are struggling to stay abreast of social and technological developments. The ease with which vast arrays of information may be accessed in a distributed computing environment was not foreseen by the authors of much of the legislation and policy in place today. The issues of information access and privacy can not be discussed in isolation. Satellite factors such as information ownership, distribution, pricing, liability and security all have an impact and must be taken into account. Consideration of these issues must play a part in policy formulation. After studying existing and proposed legislation, principles and policies, components have been isolated which should find a place in any policy that deals with access and privacy for land related information in a distributed environment. The guidelines formulated are generic in nature and do not address jurisdiction dependent idiosyncrasies. In addition to the policy components, a development strategy is proposed. The main thrusts of the strategy are that the policy should attempt to be: media independent; applicable to all sectors of society, especially when dealing with the issue of privacy; encouraging of a proactive approach to information dissemination; and, aware that privacy is a vital quality that must be considered in coincidence with all access decisions. The combination of the components and the development strategy provides a framework that will prevent discontinuities and inconsistencies in the application of the policy. The suggestions made should prove useful in the development of access and privacy policies for land information in a distributed information environment that are appropriate, effective and applicable both now and in the future.