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Monday, March 21, 2011

The HB477 Working Group and Making Utah a Little More Open

The press release just went out. I'm going to be joining the Utah State Senate-sponsored working group, aiming to bring Utah's open records laws into the 21st century. I'll be among other notables such as Phil Windley (CTO, co-founder of Kynetx and former Utah State CTO, founder, Internet Identity Workshop), who are all experts in this field of open standards and technologies. This is a great move for the state of Utah.

Having written 3 books on Facebook and Facebook technologies, having written an entire site devoted to helping improve a brand's reputation on Twitter, MySpace (and soon Facebook), and having consulted in helping brands, big and small across the web to integrate "social" technologies, I think I can really help in this effort. Facebook's core focus, and value, is surrounding privacy. With Facebook, I can fine tune who sees my messages, how public I want them to be, and ensure my close friends and family are protected, while sharing my more public life with others. (did I mention my phone number is 801-853-8339 and my email address is Yes, I'm happy to share.)

Many of you know I have a Twitter account with near 30,000 followers (btw, numbers don't mean a thing so don't let that number make you think I'm any better than any of you). What you may not know is that I actively choose which of my updates actually go out to Twitter. I automate my privacy. I automate how I want to share data. Our government could, and should be doing the same.

It is based on this experience, and my experience helping other businesses, organizations, and brands, that I  hope I can help the state of Utah incorporate the same types of philosophies. The default for our Legislature (and I could argue our national governments as well) should be, "share with everyone" on any electronic correspondance. Then, legislators should be able to actively pick and choose items that do not go public when the privacy of an individual is at stake. Or, perhaps we could even automate that process.

I'll share more of my vision in the future. I'd also like to do more research. But I intend for this to be an open, honest process. I will be blogging along the way. The first question I asked them when I joined was if the sessions would be streamed online. They will, and I'll make sure you know how to access those. I want you to comment and participate - I'll make sure we have multiple avenues for that to happen. If I'm not being open enough let me know - this entire process should be the epitome of what this group is set out to do. I intend to eat my own dog food.

If you have any ideas or suggestions you would like me to bring to this group, please discuss in the comments. No idea is too stupid for this.

As a final disclosure, yes, I do manage the "Repeal HB477" Facebook Page. I've been clear about my opinions on this. I don't intend for that to go away, nor do my opinions surrounding that go away. I do believe in coming up with a solution however, and more than any type of "repeal" legislature I want a solution that is fair, balanced, supports the citizens of Utah (as well as the Press), but at the same time allows citizens the privacy they need when they talk to their elected representatives. That's just my opinion though - I want to go in with all of your opinions as well so please let me know your thoughts!

Lastly, just to be clear up front (remember, this is an open process), I do currently work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No, I am not entering this position as an employee of the Church. It is in no way affiliated, sponsored, directed, nor suggested by the Church in any way. This is simply a part of my professional consulting practice that I do on the side, and I intend to approach it as such. I will not be reporting to the Church on any of this, nor will they have any part in this process. I just want to be clear on that. Any comment here, in the group, or elsewhere surrounding this working group and the policies discussed are my own opinions and not to be construed as anything else.

So what ideas do you have for me? What can I bring into this working group? What other examples should I look towards as we approach this difficult subject?

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