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Should Taxpayers Pay Twice For Weather Data?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the decaptivation dept.

United States 359

theodp writes "Thanks to O.M.B. Circular A-130, taxpayers now enjoy free access to SEC, Patent Office, and IRS data over the Internet. Now the Bush administration must decide whether to order the National Weather Service to make taxpayer-funded weather readings freely available on the Net, ignoring complaints from an industry trade group that doing so violates pre-Internet era agreements."

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359 comments

Moderation (0, Redundant)

Fuck you all, losers (845358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451460)

When moderators are g i ven access, they are g i ven a n u mber of po i nts of i nfl u ence to play w i th. E ach comment they moderate ded u cts a po i nt. When they r u n ou t of po i nts, they are done serv i ng u nt i l next t i me i t i s thei r t u rn.

Moderat i on takes place by select i ng an adject i ve from a drop down l i st that appe ars next to comments contai n i ng descr i pt i ve words l i ke Flamebai t or I nformat i ve. Bad words w i ll red u ce the comment's score by a s i ngle po i nt, and good words i ncre ase a comment's score by a s i ngle po i nt. All comments are scored on an absol u te scale from -1 to 5. Logged- i n u sers start at 1 (althou gh th i s can vary from 0 to 2 based on thei r karma) and anonymou s u sers start at 0.

Moderators can not part i c i pate i n the same d i sc u ss i on as both a moderator and a poster. Th i s i s to prevent ab u ses, and wh i le i t i s one of the more controvers ial aspects of the system, I 'm st i ck i ng to i t. There are enou gh l u rkers that moderate that, i f you want to post, feel free.

Moderat i on po i nts exp i re after 3 days i f they are left u n u sed. You then go back i nto the pool and m i ght someday be g i ven access agai n.

Concentrate more on promot i ng than on demot i ng. The re al go al here i s to f i nd the j u i cy good st u ff and let others re ad i t. Do not promote personal agendas. Do not let you r op i n i ons factor i n. Try to be i mpart ial abou t th i s. S i mply d i sagreei ng w i th a comment i s not a val i d re ason to mark i t down. L i kew i se, agreei ng w i th a comment i s not a val i d re ason to mark i t u p. The go al here i s to share i de as. To s i ft throu gh the haystack and f i nd needles. And to keep the ch i ldren who l i ke to spam Slashdot i n check.

You m i ght have not i ced that the karma bon u s seems to d i sappe ar from comments that are he av i ly moderated. To be more acc u rate, when a comment that was posted w i th the karma bon u s has been moderated down tw i ce, the karma bon u s i s removed from the score's total.

There are two major re asons for th i s. The f i rst i s more techn i cal: u s i ng the defa u lt sett i ngs for the Karma Bon u s, a post moderated down tw i ce wou ld be at score:0. I f th i s post i s i n fact a bad post, moderators w i ll now cont i n u e to moderate down th i s score:0 post, b u t the Karma Bon u s w i ll prevent the comment from ever fall i ng to negat i ve one. The bon u s i s not i ntended to prevent bad comments from bei ng moderated to -1.

The second major re ason i s more soc ial. The karma bon u s i s des i gned to accelerate the moderat i on system. The bon u s i s g i ven to tr u sted u sers who have a h i story of pos i t i ve contr i b u t i on. Essent ially, the karma bon u s lets the u ser moderate thei r own comment, n u dg i ng i t from Score:1 to 2. Normal moderat i on has the balance of meta moderat i on, b u t s i nce the karma bon u s i s not s u bject to normal M2, we dec i ded 2 moderators cou ld cou nteract the bon u s.

Ple ase note that when the karma bon u s i s removed, no karma penalty i s assessed to the poster. Th i s has been i n the code s i nce e arly 2003 and has been work i ng q u i te well.

Thundercats (1)

thundercatslair (809424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451462)

thunder thunder thunder thundercats HO!

Ooh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451468)

This is gonna kick up a storm.

Ooh-Gone with the tin. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451635)

"This is gonna kick up a storm."

Hopefully no trailer parks will be harmed.

Re:Ooh (2, Funny)

kesler (576674) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451652)

I would say that there's a 70% chance of this passing; 30% chance of scattered showers.

Re:Ooh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451778)

The National Weather Service has issued a severe snowjob warning....

first..... (0, Offtopic)

Vash_066 (816757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451474)

first post?

That long silence you hear... (5, Funny)

AvantLegion (595806) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451478)

... is people trying to figure out how they can bash Bush over this.

Re:That long silence you hear... (1, Insightful)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451506)

No need. The man has plenty of real faults and failures to bash.

Re:That long silence you hear... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451514)

Bush isnt the only problem... Republicans in general are

Re:That long silence you hear... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451523)

It's hard to find a long silence when you're the FIRST POST. Jackass.

Re:That long silence you hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451531)

Nice. :)

Re:That long silence you hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451533)

It's easy the 'Slashdot way'. Either don't RTFA or misinterpret the FA to suit your viewpoint.

Re:That long silence you hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451550)

wtfru?

Judging by other Bush Admin decisions... (5, Funny)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451553)

They'll skip options one and two and head straight to Option Three:

Declare the weather a matter of national security, and order that it be classified as sensitive material immediately.

Re:Judging by other Bush Admin decisions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451616)

Excuse me, but what other decisions have the Bush Administration made to classify material that shouldn't have been?

Please provide example or otherwise you are simply just talking out or your ass. Oh wait, this is slashdot, where people just make up things to to be "insightful".

Re:Judging by other Bush Admin decisions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451667)

I like boobs.

Re:Judging by other Bush Admin decisions... (4, Interesting)

MourningBlade (182180) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451823)

Well, now-adays it's rarely "classified" it's just "sensitive." You see, sensitive doesn't have any accountability. You can actually get in trouble for classifying something that shouldn't have been.

Want an example of "sensitive"? Look up the Barlow case regarding the TSA. All details concerning airport security are considered "sensitive." This includes things such as "as a TSA examiner, are you encouraged to look for drugs?" (which would be illegal).

There's far more than that. Also, the FOIA compliance rate has gone way, way down under this administration. I believe the ACLU has hard numbers on that (not surprising, given how many FOIA requests they make).

An argument could be made that "sensitive isn't classified" and it would be correct, but it belies the reality that "sensitive" is effectively "classified."

Re:Judging by other Bush Admin decisions... (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451617)

I'm not as concerned about that as the stuff that was NOT declared a matter of national security but was arbitrarily classified anyway.

Re:Judging by other Bush Admin decisions... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451707)

dubba: Have you rounded up the latest group of terrorists?
SS agent: Yes sir, We have. *hand over ear* send them in
*a group of rag tag individuals are lead in.*
dubba: so what did the old man do?
SS agent: Sir, he was revealing classified security information to his neighbors... It seems his leg aghes whenever it's going to rain, so this terrorist had to be brought to a stop
Dubba: good send him to guantanamo, what did the old lady do.
SS agent: same crime different method, she was using tea leaves to predict major storms..
dubba: good send her too, the little girl?
SS agent: she was chanting 'it's raining it's pouring the old man is snoring' durring a rain storm in a public school.
dubba: good send her off too.

Re:That long silence you hear... (1, Insightful)

randallpowell (842587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451600)

Silence. It lacks sound but has meaning. At this point, silence would mean no one is surprised by Bush's anti-technology and science views. Our silence is the silencing of the American tradition of intellectual pursuit.

Oh, this will be good. (1)

FireballX301 (766274) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451481)

Government: Hmm, hurricane heading towards Alabama.
People: Hmm, it's rainy all of a sudden. Let's check the weather....what? What do you mean we have to pay? Dammit, screw that.

Several thousand deaths later...

Uh oh..? (1)

BaronSprite (651436) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451482)

1) Make weather data available on net. 2) ??? 3) Profit!

Re:Uh oh..? (2, Interesting)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451494)

Nothing better for profit than paying twice.

Re:Uh oh..? (2, Insightful)

Squareball (523165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451602)

And remember, when they say "intrest group" it usually means "(not in the citizen's) intrests group".

Re:Uh oh..? (5, Insightful)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451509)

Step 2 is dead people.

Australia does this. The result is lots of dead pilots and boaters every year because they didn't pay the money to get the services they need. The result is that other people end up paying far more for everything since the gov't is being too cheap.

Re:Uh oh..? (2, Informative)

Mr Rohan (87542) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451580)

Australia does this. The result is lots of dead pilots and boaters every year because they didn't pay the money to get the services they need. The result is that other people end up paying far more for everything since the gov't is being too cheap.

Perhaps they just didn't bother to read the weather report. Much of the data is provide free (see the BOM [bom.gov.au] ) and updated regularly.

Re:Uh oh..? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451729)

You don't get aviation weather unless you are properly signed up and they have an account to charge to. And its not cheap either. You would think for the amount they charge, they would get it right a bit more often.

BOM subscriptions [bom.gov.au]

Re:Uh oh..? (1, Funny)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451594)

The result is lots of dead pilots and boaters every year

How can better access to weather information result in more deaths? I find that a rather ridiculous assumption. Would you care to provide some evidence of that?

Re:Uh oh..? (1)

andalay (710978) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451609)

How can better access to weather information result in more deaths? I find that a rather ridiculous assumption. Would you care to provide some evidence of that?

I'm fairly sure he meant making you pay for weather info

Re:Uh oh..? (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451686)

I don't think so, because in Australia most weather information is in fact free.

Re:Uh oh..? (2)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451737)

Ah, I think I misunderstood a combination of the artice summary, the parent, and the grandparent. The summary states that if the information is made available over the net it will be free. The grandparent wrote step 1 as put the info on the net, so I assumed he meant for free. However his third step, which I overlooked, was profit, so I guess he meant charge for it over the net somehow. Apparently the parent I replied to thought so as well.

Re:Uh oh..? (0)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451695)

Can you provide any evidence that lack of access to weather information has caused even a single avaiation or boating accident that would not have happened otherwise?

Re:Uh oh..? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451797)

The flight magazine I get every month or so from CASA has had several examples of it over the past few years.

There were some serious issues with weather access that was a major factor in the Sydney to Hobart race that ended so badly a few years ago as well. That search and rescue operation alone cost more than the BOM's operation budget for the same year.

Well... not always. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451794)

I remember when a local locksmith sued the city to stop police from unlocking cars for people who had locked their keys inside, on the principal that the city was unfairly competing with his business. Now the cops only do it in an emergency (like a kid inside, or the engine is running). I agree. A government doesn't have to conform to market pressures like a for-profit business does. Taxes can be used to subsidize the government offerings. It can be very unfair "competition." Nevertheless in some cases, it is proper.

I sympathize with a business who has the government come in and compete or give away something that destroys his business model. I think the goverment should only do this when there is a compelling need or it is a necessary government function. Otherwise a security company would complain that the city police are "competing" when they do neighborhood patrols or accompany store managers to banks to make night deposits. Sometimes, a particular services becomes so important that i migrates from private providers to the goverment providing it. Fire protection is like that... 160 years ago is was largely privately provided (often by insurance companies) but now it is chiefly provided by government. Schools are another example.

I think NWS data falls in the latter category. NWS data is a legitimate government function like fire and police services. What the private sector needs to do is offer a better or different or added-value product that people will want to pay for, or get into another line of business. Like the security company that offers private security guards by offering services the police don't.

Twice? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451488)

We shouldn't even have to be paying once, weather data acquisition should be handled by the private sector and only the private sector. Really everything except for national defense should be handled by the private sector.

Re:Twice? (2, Insightful)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451511)

Dumbass. Don't you know that weather is a considerable factor in military operations?

Re:Twice? (1)

gonk (20202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451518)

Rather important for the military to know what the weather is going to do, don't you think?

robert

Re:Twice? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451526)

Weather data is important for making predictions regarding natural resource management and food production, which are both important to securing national defense. It's also important for scheduling training exercises for the military, and numerous other things that are instrumental to national defense to anyone with even the slightest idea of what defending a nation entails.

That the data can be provided to the tax payer for personal benefit is just a nice side-effect.

Re:Twice? (2, Insightful)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451564)

I think you need to look up the definition of "public good" and "positive externality."

Re:Twice? (3, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451713)

Weather kills far more people in the US than foreign aggression. It is national defense (heck, NOAA even has their own uniformed, commissioned corps [noaa.gov] ), just not defending from what you're too short-sighted to think of.

Part of their mission statement (5, Insightful)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451507)

Their mission statement reads
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.

This implies, but doesn't state clearly, that its information should be made easily available to all (and thus probably free).

I doubt that existing agreements are exclusive.

Re:Part of their mission statement (3, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451671)

This implies, but doesn't state clearly, that its information should be made easily available to all

What I don't get is what exactly the NWS provides to the commercial weather services, and what exactly the companies do that they believe is being "duplicated" by the government.

My understanding was that the NWS simply collects raw data and feeds it to the companies. The companies do not actually collect weather data independently. Prior to the new rules, the NWS data was only available to said companies, which packaged it up with fancy graphics or some such nonsense. Now, anyone can download the data and set up their own service. Is this all true?

So, if the NWS is making fancy weather websites (and hence, directly competing with the companies), I agree that this might not be entirely fair (although I've seen this argument extended too far on occasion). On the other hand, if some random private individual wants to set up their own website to interpret the public data, what possible argument is there against this? I'm not clear on what exactly the industry association is objecting too - it sounds like a combination of both cases.

I found a Wired article from last month that made it a little clearer:

"Weather-industry companies were promoting the idea that the government restrict special interests that have the ability to pay for the data -- like Major League Baseball teams or citrus growers -- from acquiring it for free, [some weather company honcho] said."

That sounds like bullshit to me. Why should private companies be discriminated against? They're taxpayers too, at least in theory. The government shouldn't force them to go through some hideously expensive service to get the same info that the public receives for free. (Actually, though, this practice is unfortunately very common in academic sciences, largely as a way for universities to supplement their grant income.)

You could argue that the government shouldn't be in the business of collecting weather data at all - although I think there's a very strong case for the NWS even for libertarian types, since the primary role of government should be to protect our lives and property. So, assuming the NWS is a justified agency, there's no possible case for restricting access to the data to a few private companies.

Re:Part of their mission statement (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451724)

Right. The "duplication of service" is duplication of distribution to the public. The companies in this business receive the data free from the NWS and resell it at a large markup to the public. If the NSW provides weather data to the public, it will be duplicating the companies' service. In short, duplication is not a real issue here. What is at issue is that certain companies have made a business of getting information free and selling it and they don't want their business undercut by everyone being able to get the raw data.

Re:Part of their mission statement (4, Informative)

windows (452268) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451761)

You're absolutely correct. But this is about more than disseminating data.

Private industry wants to take over actually collecting the data. They can't tell the NWS what to do with data the NWS collects, but they want to take collection of data out of the NWS' control. That's what the article is saying.

What's so wrong about this is research is rarely profitable in a short period of time. Industry is about impressing shareholders as much as it is about producing a product. I'm of the opinion that taking data collection out of the hands of the government will stifle research to improve our ability to collect this data.

This is extremely important, especially in areas such as radar. The WSR-88D radars, many of which were deployed in the early 1990s, were developed through years of research. They have the important feature that their predecessors don't of being able to detect motion, not just reflectivity. This allows meteorologists to detect things such as rotation and better issue warnings (particularly tornado warnings)! It's important that this research continue.

That's really why private industry's stance on this is dangerous and flawed.

Re:Part of their mission statement (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451793)

I don't see this in the article. It just talks about dissemination. Am I missing something? Where do you get the idea that the private companies want to take over collection of the information?

Re:Part of their mission statement (1)

windows (452268) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451808)

"We feel that they spend a lot of their funding and attention on duplicating products and services that already exist in the private sector," Barry Lee Myers, executive vice president of AccuWeather, says of the weather service. "And they are not spending the kind of time and effort that is needed on catastrophic issues that involve lives and property, which I think is really their true function."

Maybe I'm misunderstanding that, but that's how I took it.

BTW, private industry has invested in this sort of thing. Just look at all the local TV stations with doppler radar and that run their own computer models.

Re:Part of their mission statement (1)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451814)

Well, considering if they are charging for the data, thats a revinew source for the NWS, if they gave it away for free, they would have to get money to support them another way, which would basicly mean they would have to request more money from the government, thus people would pay higher taxes.

Considering most people get their weather from the news stations, or things like the weather channel, they arn't really paying for it as is, so weather or not it's free to them doesn't matter.

It's not like the mass populace is going for this data and generating their own forecast. To say this puts peoples lives at risk is pure insanity, people will just check the news as they always have.

The important thing is that the government make data available, weather or not it's free does not matter. Infact I prefer the government to make money off data that is only important to companies that use it to make money. Let companies subsidize the cost of government.

Bush? (0, Troll)

Phoenix-IT (801337) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451517)

I don't think anyone can realistically focus this on GWB. Politicians in general like "contribtions", they all sell out in one way or another... Even "civil rights groups" have agenda's that are not alltruistic.

Depends on how much of a stink the media makes about this in Washington.

Re:Bush? (1)

Phoenix-IT (801337) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451782)

I'd like to know exactly how that comment was a troll...

However, slashdot moderators have proven time and again that their moderation has no basis in fairness at all. Simply put, their behavior is like a group of kids in high-school that are often referred to as the "in-crowd". If your opinion does not agree with theirs you will be moderated down, whether or not that moderation makes sense.

Mr. Moderator, you're nothing more that a /. agenda pansy who's every scoring action is nothing less than jigoism. I guess the political views of you and your fellow moderators are so weak that they cannot withstand arguement. I feel sorry for your freinds, if you actually have any that can stand your one-sided viewpoints for very long.

Incumbent weather providers.... (4, Interesting)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451522)

As the weather changes for the worse recently, freely available weather data could possibly save lives.
Highlighted by a recent incident where heavy rain fell, a river rose, and 700 people were evacuated at 1am in a camp ground. On the news a 10yo kid recounted how the water was ankle deep in his tent, when the family was woken for evac. Some hours later only the tent tops were visible.
The commercial weather incumbent couldnt warn these people. A camper in the internet cafe might of.

Re:Incumbent weather providers.... (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451579)

The commercial weather incumbent couldnt warn these people. A camper in the internet cafe might of.

Supposing for a second that the campground did have an internet cafe (i've never seen one that did, but I guess they could be out there), is there some reason weather.com, WeatherUnderground or one of the other free weather sites would not have satisfied?

Re:Incumbent weather providers.... (1)

DCowern (182668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451718)

Supposing for a second that the campground did have an internet cafe (i've never seen one that did, but I guess they could be out there)

Apparently, you haven't camped in Texas [slashdot.org] . :-P

Re:Incumbent weather providers.... (1)

ctishman (545856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451585)

Not to nitpick, but who the hell camps where there's an internet cafe? (Aside from those old people who think camping is parking their 60' RV in a grassed-over parking lot for three days, then going home)

Re:Incumbent weather providers.... (2, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451611)

http://www.weather.com/
http://www.wunderground.c om/

Both are freely available to everyone with a net connection. Both rely on NOAA and NWS supplied data along with other, private sources.

The vast majority of the American public gets their weather from those or similar locations. Most wouldn't know it if the free feeds from the NOAA/NWS stopped. Lives would not be in danger as those that do use the feeds would either pay the fee or move over to feeds from the private sector.

That being said, it should NOT be made a fee service. This is a taxpayer supported service and should be freely available to the taxpayers.

I just think all those "people are going to DIE" posts here on /. are a bit off the mark.

-Charles

Re:Incumbent weather providers.... (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451668)

If you can't figure out that a campground that's ankle deep in water is a bad place to be, I call that Dawin in action.

Re:Incumbent weather providers.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451706)

The commercial weather incumbent couldnt warn these people.

Sure they could... for a price. You damn hippies want everything for free, don't you? It's my taxes that are paying for it all.

James Fallow's Article in today's NYT (1)

ebag (114353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451541)

How timely...

http://www.nytimes.com/auth/login?URI=http://www .n ytimes.com/2005/01/23/business/yourmoney/23techno. html

Re:James Fallow's Article in today's NYT (3, Funny)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451570)

Uhh...ebag? The article referenced in the submission is the Fallows article, republished through CNet.

I guess we can at least look forward to a Michael Sims finding a way to dupe this using the original NYTimes. I wonder -- do the editors get a cut of the ad revenue that is generated by each of the articles they sponsor n the front page?

Re:James Fallow's Article in today's NYT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451581)

are you suggesting some sort of conspiracy? That's just unthinkable. Never.

xbmc (0, Offtopic)

blackomegax (807080) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451563)

i already get free weather reports on my xbox via xbmc. weather.com also has free weather. i dont see what the deal is. /doesnt pay taxes/

How, Tonto (0, Flamebait)

AbsurdProverb (831079) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451566)

Those indigenous tribes that survived the tsunami did just fine without a weather report or the internet. Big ups to making it with two sticks in the nature.

Shame about (1)

Lifewish (724999) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451605)

the ones that apparently got more or less wiped out. Yeah, some may have survived by following their instincts. But a) that's easier on a sharply-sloping, underpopulated island than in a flat, crowded Indian town and b) that doesn't mean we can't try to do better. And tribes in general only exist cos either we don't want their land or we're too namby-pamby to go in and wipe them out. That's industrialisation for you.

Re:How, Tonto (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451705)

Yeah, cause the ones that were wiped off the face of the planet left huge boulders behind with "Native tribe used to be here!" engraved on them.

Wait, what? (-1, Flamebait)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451569)

Bush wants to fuck over corporate interests? Something's up . . . . .

Why is there a discussion here? (2, Insightful)

narfbot (515956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451573)

This is just confusing -- the article briefly mentions the same thing:
"Now the Bush administration must decide whether to order the National Weather Service to make taxpayer-funded weather readings freely available on the Net, ignoring complaints from an industry trade group that doing so violates pre-Internet era agreements."

Eh? Isn't the information already free? Go to the NWS website. Everything is all there -- I visit it all the time. Seems like the decision has already been made, and the trade groups are arguing after the fact. Who cares if violates an agreement -- it's their right to change it? What does the Bush Administration have anything to do with this when the decision has already been made?

Re:Why is there a discussion here? (1)

Elvon Livengood (654636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451660)

Isn't the information already free? Go to the NWS website. Everything is all there -- I visit it all the time.

I was wondering the same thing, since the NWS/NOAA site is my primary weather source. The only thing that makes sense, other than your idea, is that the argument is not over the forecasts, but the detailed data the forecasts are built from. Surely Accuweather and similar outfits have their own modeling/forecasting software - I've often heard TV weatherfolk refer to multiple computer models of the same weather situation. Ok, that might really be the same model with some slight variations in inputs. But I think my point stands.

Re:Why is there a discussion here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451726)

it is only available now in a very difficult to re-use text format. They now have the ability (piloted and worked well) to distribute the data in a very friendly xml format that would make people like weather.com pretty much useless because really nice web sites like that and apps would be dead easy compared to now.

So the fight is actually not over the realease of the data but the release of the data in this format. The guys fighting it just know that it will cost them lots of money and erode the nitch they have now so they are making crap up to save themselves. Normally I would say they are doomed but if it is really bush that will decide this issue then I'm not so sure since he is such an evil republican cock sucker. (any reps out there? offense is intended)

I want my info NOW! (0, Troll)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451578)

The info should be free, especially if the info being made available over the Internet. If hardware is an issue, I'm sure Congress can spare selling off a couple of $500 toliet seats to get a nice Linux server and a fat pipe installed.

As for all these "pre-Internet" agreements, the times are a changing and the agreements should have a mandatory upgrade. There's no reason why the federal government should be subsidizing backward-thinking industries in the 21st century.

Public Property (5, Informative)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451592)

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Works produced by employees of the United States federal government in the scope of their employment are public domain by statute. However, note that, despite popular misconception, the U.S. Federal Government can own copyrights that are assigned to it by others. As a general rule photographs on .mil and .gov sites are public domain. However there are some notable exceptions. Check the privacy and security notice of the website. It should also be noted that governments outside the U.S. often do claim copyright over works produced by their employees (for example, Crown Copyright in the United Kingdom). Also, most state governments in the United States do not place their work into the public domain and do in fact own the copyright to their work. Please be careful to check ownership information before copying.


Data our taxes pay for, is public domain.

I don't think the courts would allow it any other way (should it get that far). If it does... think about what this could lead to:

- private companies like lexis-nexus being the only access to things like the Library of congress?

- private news networks the only way to read bills proposed on the state or federal level?

- Law Student need to read cases? Be prepaired to pay CourtTV several hundred dollars a month for access.

The Supreme Court is pretty conservative by any account, and tend to favor business over citizens rights (in the past 10 years)... but there's no way even they would let this one slip by.

Even their statements: public domain.

Data government creates is for the people.

Re:Public Property (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451715)

Law Student need to read cases? Be prepaired to pay CourtTV several hundred dollars a month for access.

Electrical engineering student need to read journal articles? Be prepared to pay the IEEE several thousand dollars a year for access. (I just looked, the IEEE charges $50,000 a year for online and print subscriptions to all their journals.)

This information isn't free (in the sense that researching, printing, and distributing cost money). University libraries seem happy to pay for this; I can get all IEEE publications since the 80s (or something) right from my dorm room (and many, many others... if you think the IEEE charges a lot wait until you see how much medial journals cost!). Paying for this is a fact of life. Going to University is about more than taking classes; it's about having information and people at your disposal (in the hopes that you'll better society in some way).

Sorry about the OT. Anyway, if the government starts limiting my access to whether information, I promise that I will set up a weather station here at UIC and provide the data for free. Hopefully my colleagues elsewhere will do the same, and we can provide out own (superior) collection of weather data.

Re:Public Property (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451841)

Law Student need to read cases? Be prepaired to pay CourtTV several hundred dollars a month for access. Electrical engineering student need to read journal articles?

With this kind of reasoning ability, I hope your EE activities are restricted to those involving voltages of 5 or less.

You mean... (3, Informative)

chinakow (83588) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451596)

http://www.weather.gov/ [weather.gov] isn't good enough? they list all a crap-ton of weather stations, all you need to know is what city you want.

Re:You mean... (1)

StormMoon (834355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451756)

What they may end up doing, though, is hiding all of that information since they rely on all of this to make their weather forecasts. That's if this even goes through.

Tough shit (1)

BlackTriangle (581416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451628)

Companies don't have a right to profit.

Suck it down.

It's called risk management, fuckers. If your company makes a product or service with absolutely no value, who's fault is it? Yours!

Re:Tough shit (2, Interesting)

randallpowell (842587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451691)

Last I checked, we had captialism. When did we switch to corporate communism? Captialism works just fine. I own a small biz but I hve no right to profits, only the right to provide a service that may or may not provide a profit.

FUD? (3, Interesting)

deltagreen (522610) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451633)

From the CNet-article:
We feel that they spend a lot of their funding and attention on duplicating products and services that already exist in the private sector, Barry Lee Myers, executive vice president of AccuWeather, says of the weather service. And they are not spending the kind of time and effort that is needed on catastrophic issues that involve lives and property, which I think is really their true function.

He added that the weather service might have done a better, faster job of warning about the southern Asian tsunami if it had not been distracted in this way.

Is it just me, or does this sound like scare tactics? Would the National Weather Service hire fewer meteorologists or invest less in necessary equipment, instead spending the money on these public services? Or could public appreciation of the services actually mean better funding for the NWS, recouping the costs?

If anyone knows, has there been real criticism concerning the tsunami and the weather service? And secondly, what's the cost of these public services compared to the total budget?

I think this is just FUD, but if anyone has facts that say otherwise, I'll listen.

Re:FUD? (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451801)

Here is another point... Why exactly would the US National Weather Service be looking carefully at asian weather? Now I know in a vague sense they look at weather around the world, but uh... Somehow I don't think a significant portion of US weather originates in southern asia. Hurricanes tend to form along northwestern africa so we look at that, certain weather patterns exist right along the great lakes and border canada specifically so we look at those... I'm sure there is some specific weather caused near mexico to so we probably look at that as well, but I doubt anyone could possibly say that NWS should have been teh first to spot a south asian tsunami...Not exactly in the job description there...

This is a little Scary (1)

conJunk (779958) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451636)

I see this as boiling down to a discussion as to the specific roll of government, and, as a possible precedent-setter for anything that deals with private/public conflicts.

"We feel that they spend a lot of their funding and attention on duplicating products and services that already exist in the private sector," Barry Lee Myers, executive vice president of AccuWeather, says of the weather service. "And they are not spending the kind of time and effort that is needed on catastrophic issues that involve lives and property, which I think is really their true function."

He added that the weather service might have done a better, faster job of warning about the southern Asian tsunami if it had not been distracted in this way. Sen. Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, where AccuWeather is based, has supported the industry group's position.


There's an argument here that suggests that the national weather service should provide one roll, monitoring and predicting weather, and leave the dissemenation of that information to the private sector.

The increadibly fallacious support for this is that (paraphrasing) "if the NWS is taking time to dissemenate their information, then obviously they aren't spending enough time predicting natural disasters,"
That's a crock, frankly.

Instead of charging heaps of money for the info via private sector (as a poster from Oz pointed out has heaps of humal life risks), simple (uh oh, here comes a dirty word) *expand* the NWS to include a whole division for making its findings available. Hell, even bring on some of the private sector people to lead that devision.

At the end of the day, our tax dollars are going to collect this data, we should be able to see it, and the Clinton-era protocols that call for it to be available at "no more than the cost of distribution" seems perfectly reasonable to me.

The roll of our government shouldn't be to garauntee corporate profits, *especially* where human lives are concerned.

Sad News...Johnny Carson Dead at 79 (-1, Offtopic)

bugmenot (788326) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451641)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Comedian/Talk show host Johnny Carson was found dead in his California home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to NBC. Truly an American icon.

no brainer? (1)

Linwood (652814) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451642)

how do these votes even come up? what idiot senator or whoever sits around and says hey lets double charge the citizens thats a great idea! our goverment needs a watchdog group that makes sure idiots stop coming up with ideas like this.. to bad those people would proably be just as corrupt.

Don't know about you...but... (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451644)

I am able to retrieve all I want from the NWS for free already. I have no idea how Accuweather can sustain itself much longer. All the NWS needs to do is work with the cell providers and provide a free (airtime only) app for retrieving weather on cellphones and there ya go. WAP sites are nice, but Java and BREW apps are more capable the most WAP sites.

up your taxes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451653)

ass fart penis

taco penis fart

did anyone even read the article? (5, Informative)

joeaggie (530447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451655)

The article was debating weather (pun intended) archive data should be made free. The data is already easily available but you usually have to buy a CD which ranges anywhere from 10 bucks (or so) for NEXRAD images to 5000 for the CD mentioned in the article.

This article had nothing to do with making current weather information free! It is allready free, the US has the best weather service in the world, is the top country in the world for weather research, and its all FREE!! Check out MeteoFrance's website, you have to pay for info. Before you have a knee-jerk reaction: RTFA.


Personally, I don't think its a big issue, the only people who need a CD of archived data for the whole US would be researchers. As far as if you were curious about old weather data for your hometown you could probably go to your local weather field office and ask them for it (or check their website).

good thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451669)

Now only the rich get to be saved from tornados, floods, and tidal waves!!!!

That's ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451787)

Really, that's fine with me. The poor (and trolls) are such a bother anyhow, and it's a lot cheaper than dispensing bullets.

The tax payers shouldn't have to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451672)

pay the government for anything, let alone weather data. The National Weather Service, like any other government entity, is unconstitutional and should be abolished. There are private entities that already do the same things as the NWS. This just shows once again that the Republicrats just like to spend money that they don't have. The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans are DemocRATs are "Tax and spend" to where the RepubliCAN'Ts are "Borrow and Spend".

Vote Libertarian and people will have money to get everything that they want and don't have to pay for sh!t they don't want.

To the Mods, before you mod this down, this is not Offtopic, this is On-topic because it shows that the US Economy "Particularly the National Weather Service, a bunch of fucktards that can never get the past data let alone forecasts right to begin with" is in need of Libertarian Control, because they are the only ones that can pull of a true balanced budget, Clinton lied about having a balanced budget and Bush just doesn't give a fuck about a balanced budget. If you mod this down in any way, that proves that you're just a cowardly Republicrat bot that believes anything they tell you, instead of thinking freely on your own.

Re:The tax payers shouldn't have to (1)

randallpowell (842587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451714)

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans are DemocRATs are "Tax and spend" to where the RepubliCAN'Ts are "Borrow and Spend".

While libertarians claim to spend less, the money saved by reducing government to the Constitutonal miniums will be given to the politicians for a good job and might raise taxes to buy their 4th yaht.

zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451678)

No, we shouldn't, but thanks for letting us know that we have another thing to bitch to our congresscritters about.

what if...one step further... (2, Interesting)

louden obscure (766926) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451696)

the u.s. constitution text was only available for viewing in a proprietary file format you needed to buy a license for to just read?

Industry: don't like it? Pick up the tab! (2, Insightful)

Dunarie (672617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451701)

I say that if the weather industry doesn't like, maybe they should pick up the bill themselvs and pay it completely. Why should my tax money fully fund something I'll have to pay for anyway?

Santorum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451703)

From TFA:
Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, where AccuWeather is based, has supported the industry group's position. A spokesman said Santorum would introduce legislation to "help" the weather service "continue providing meteorological infrastructure, forecasts and warnings, rather than providing services already effectively provided by the private sector."

Why am I not surprised? Where have I heard that word before....

Oh yeah....

Santorum! [rotten.com]

He hates anal sex when it's someone else having fun, but when he gets to buttfuck the American public, he's all for it!

slashdot.org.us? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451712)

Is this slashdot.org or slashdot.org.us?

Don't assume "taxpayer" is well defined, 'cos it aint. Only some of us live in the USA.

This data needs to be freely available... (5, Insightful)

windows (452268) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451723)

I'm a student studying meteorology. I've got a lot of data and software available to me when I'm at school that simply isn't available when I'm not there. It's frustrating to search for certain data and find that it's unavailable.

The private weather industry reached an agreement with the NWS before the internet that defined the seperation between the two. There were certain things that private industry would not do that the government would. It set the responsibilities for both. However, with advances in technology and lower costs, private weather can perform many tasks that the government legitimately does. Thus, NOAA believes it's time to redefine the boundary between the two. Presumably this would allow for some overlap.

Government has always been responsible for things such as soundings, radars, and issuing watches and warnings. There's many other things the NWS does as well. NOAA has attempted to make data available to the public whenever possible. For example, you can get a lot of radar data shortly after it's received from a NOAA ftp site. This is a good thing.

The way I see it is private industry has spent lots of money investing in things the NWS already does. Instead of just accepting this, they want to make money by taking over things that are normally done by the government and reducing the government's role.

Research is rarely profitable in the short term. It's an investment. Research in the meteorological community is ongoing. Constantly, work is being done to improve the data collected, our understanding of the weather, and the methods used to analyze the data. By taking things such as radar out of the hands of the government, we sacrifice the research that is currently being done. Remember, private industry isn't going to make the investment in research that the government is. After all, research doesn't make a profit quickly and doesn't impress investors.

IMHO, private industry is overstepping their bounds here. They're infringing into things the government already does. And they're pretending to be the victims in this.

If private industry gets their way, everyone who doesn't have a financial stake in this loses.

Warning! Poor moderation alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451786)

Why did the parent get modded down? It's factually correct while making a couple of good points.

Sorry, Lando (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451725)

ignoring complaints from an industry trade group that doing so violates pre-Internet era agreements

I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.

No way (5, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451759)

If Wx data were publically available, we run the risk of weathermen like this [thewvsr.com] instead of the highly trained media professionals we have now.

Free or not (1)

Muttonhead (109583) | more than 9 years ago | (#11451774)

let's just be sure it is accurate.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11451818)

Yes, they should. Might make the tax funded part less for those of us who don't use this data
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