OpenCorporates, the parent organisation of OpenGazettes, takes the position that data about legal entities, and the statutory information about those connected with them, needs to be findable, useful and usable in the public interest. Companies are after all artificial legal constructs for the benefit of society, and good, honest business depends on the ability of all parties to make informed decisions about who they do business with, work for, regulate, or compete with.
However, some Gazette notices are of a different subject matter, having nothing to do with companies or those who control or run them; these notices are about individuals, with nothing to do with their business life – for example, changes of names, ownership of land, or personal bankruptcy. Clearly these are intended to be public; after all that is the purpose of gazettes – the publication of public notices – and it is important they fulfil their purpose of being things that the public notices. However, whether they need to be indexed by search engines, or used for sales marketing, is another matter.
For this reason, OpenCorporates is creating a policy for the public notices in OpenGazettes that balances improving use and access to this data, and not exploiting individuals.
- Where possible, we will distinguish between company-related public notices and individual-only related public notices (i.e. those which are not about a company, or an individual’s relationship with a company). This is not always possible, as many gazettes do not make the notices available as structured open data. In these cases the distinction can be made only by reading the notice. Because we process notices automatically, in these cases individual-only related notices may be published.
- We will encourage Google and other search engines to index those notices we believe to be about companies or other non-personal data (e.g. legislation), but will place no-index tags on those that we cannot yet tell whether they are about companies or individuals.
- Notices that we believe to be about individuals not acting in a business capacity will be searchable on OpenGazettes. However, a login (with free registration) will be required to see them, thus preventing scraping for marketing purposes and indexing by search engines.
- We will provide on OpenGazettes a mechanism for marking notices as solely individual related.
- As OpenGazettes uses the OpenCorporates database and search index to power the website and search, gazette notices will also be available on OpenCorporates and by default the same policy will apply.