Who owns National Weather Service data?
A prior question should perhaps be, "Who pays for National Weather Service data?" The answer is, not surprisingly, "U.S. taxpayers." A lot of NWS data is available on their Internet site. These are popular desinations for Internet users.
During the three months last fall when four hurricanes struck the South, weather service sites received nine billion hits — breaking a government record of six billion hits on NASA sites in the three months after the Mars rover landing last spring.
Last fall the government invited public comment on the NWS policy of making such information freely available. Support was "overwhelming." Shortly after the election, the NWS announced "it would officially embrace an open-information policy."
But some are not happy.
[T]he Commercial Weather Services Association, the industry's trade group, has complained that such sites violate an agreement from the pre-Internet era. By their argument, the taxpayers should continue to pay for all the weather balloons and monitoring stations — but should not be allowed to get the results directly from government sites.
This would be outrageous. I'm sorry to read that Senator Rick Santorum, who represents me — as well as others &mdash in Washington agrees with the trade group's position and will introduce legislation to allow commericial for-profit organizations to "continue providing meteorological infrastructure, forecasts and warnings, rather than providing services already effectively provided by the private sector. In other words, taking down those Web sites...."
This isolated item is discussed in the broader context of the Bush administration's impact on technology (taking a basically positive view, I might add) in an article from the New York Times entitled "Bush Didn't Invent the Internet, but Is He Good for Tech?" [via Dave Farber's IP list]