Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government

Lawrence Lessig in The New Republic:

Lessigcover In 2006, the Sunlight Foundation launched a campaign to get members of Congress to post their daily calendars on the Internet. “The Punch-Clock Campaign” collected pledges from ninety-two candidates for Congress, and one of them was elected. I remember when the project was described to me by one of its developers. She assumed that I would be struck by its brilliance. I was not. It seemed to me that there were too many legitimate reasons why someone might not want his or her “daily official work schedule” available to anyone with an Internet connection. Still, I didn’t challenge her. I was just coming into the “transparency movement.” Surely these things would become clearer, so to speak, later on.

In any case, the momentum was on her side. The “transparency movement” was about to achieve an extraordinary victory in the election of Barack Obama. Indeed, practically nobody any longer questions the wisdom in Brandeis’s famous remark–it has become one of the reigning clichés of the transparency movement–that “sunlight is … the best of disinfectants.” Like the decision to go to war in Iraq, transparency has become an unquestionable bipartisan value.

More here.