The Texas Legislature has taken steps to offer more transparency in government this legislative year. As a Texas Tribune article written by Becca Aaronson points out, lawmakers hope this will provide a lot of information to be available online. However, some people are worried that private information could be leaked to the public because of the recent breaches in security online on the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services website. Some experts are concerned that with the amount of information being released some private information could become public.
As quoted in the article, Sherri Greenberg, former State Representative and interim director at the Center of Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, says that “we must be very careful when we talk about personal privacy, security and certain data that should never… be online”. Public Citizen’s own Andy Wilson was also quoted in the article saying that it should not be a problem to take out the private information and that “it should be fairly simple if it is in the form of a spreadsheet or a database to just simply eliminate those columns of [private] data.” Adding that it is “a technical issue, not a privacy issue”.
Many lawmakers and experts hope that the new bills will help with efficiency as well as transparency. Representative Kirk Watson from Austin thinks that when the information is released, some people will “offer ideas for efficiency in government”. Although lofty thinking by Rep. Watson, the public disclosure laws passed in the Legislature will be a major victory in the fight for good government. It is difficult to predict the ramifications of the new laws, but at least now it is up to the public to determine the outcome.