The digital world makes it possible for us to find every bit of information we’ve ever wanted. This, of course, is all down to the power of the Internet.
The internet is this vast digital space that hosts more than 2 billion websites and more than 5 billion pages. In the early stages, the internet was such an opportunity that it took it just 4 years to muster 50 million users while nowadays the internet has more users than half of the world population, 4 billion to be precise.
The internet you all know and love is called the “Surface Web” and it accounts for just 4% of the entire internet, while the remaining 96% of WWW content is the “Deep Web”.
Each of these can be used to find information on almost any subject you could ever imagine. The internet can be used for a lot of things, but the predominant use is to easily access data and information.
In this article, we are going to discuss Public Data, and what can you learn from it.
What is Public Data? What is Open Data?
Public data refers to information that can be used freely, reused freely, and redistributed freely amongst any person who doesn’t have any legal restrictions on its usage.
In the enterprise world, public data consist of any information that the company has classified as available to its employees and any individual entities of the corporation. Examples of this would be job descriptions, press releases, marketing materials, etc.
However, the growing and rising issue surrounding net neutrality have caused a heated debate regarding the freedom to use public data. It opened debates regarding who can use it, and for what purposes.
According to PublicDataUSA, a website that you can use to search public data, data should be available online to anyone, in a structured format with lots of denotation and context.
Simply said, public data is all the data in the public domain. There is another sub-part of that, which is called open data. Open data is part of the public data and it is a structured and well-maintained data that is open to anyone and anywhere.
Additionally, open data is free, machine-readable, and openly licensed.
Public data is not free, although there are free services that offer it. However, it holds information that can be only accessed via the Freedom of information Act (FOIA) request.
While public data should be classified as information open to the public, that is simply not the case. Submitting an FOIA request can take up to months to even get a response. Datasheets from a lot of government agencies may be part of the public data pool, but that information is certainly not open to the everyone.
Public data can be any piece of information from people search, voter registration, property registration, white house visitors, vehicle sales records, business listings, corporate registration, campaign contributors, registered agents, US Customs data, public directory listings, and financial cases, amongst others.
There are public data services out there that help you reunite with a lost family member, or a lover, through people search which consist of public data. This can be used for many things, but the things that aren’t meant to be used is for screening employees, stalking or spying, and identity theft.