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UK.gov Open Data site fills up with spam

Opened-up government floodgates work both ways

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Spammers have forced the Cabinet Office to close portions of the UK's open data website.

Comments have been disabled after the CAPTCHA gateway was smartly circumvented.

"After a long analysis of the spam in our site, we have a strong feeling that human intervention is also at play," writes Antonio Acuna, head of the data.gov.uk project, which is designed to "open up government".

Gordon Brown set the "open data" gravy train in motion before the last election, but the great giveaway has become an emblem of Conservative 2.0 - and a magnet for consultants and ideologues.

While opening up the data for public use is overdue, the philosophy of the project ensures a lose-lose for the taxpayer: paying for valuable assets with no income generated. While flexible licensing, for example on a per-revenue basis, would ensure value that's captured could be returned to the nation, open data zealots insist on giving it all away for nowt.

This incoherence was reflected in a highly critical National Audit Office report in April.

But the gravy train rolls on. In addition to £30m for the quango, and a hugely expanded Cabinet Office team, the taxpayer is chucking £10m at script kiddies to create Montessori mashups with the data sets. And the new quango is hiring a chief executive - with the salary in the range of £100,000 to £150,000 according to this job posting.

How much, exactly? It's confidential. Not all data is open, you see. ®

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