New L&I website removes gun permit appeal information after blog backlash

An overlay showing code violations in Philadelphia.
DEPARTMENT OF LICENSES AND INSPECTIONS

The Department of Licenses and Inspections, in partnership with the Office of Information Technology, released a trove of data in the form of a retooled website and map on Monday in an effort to increase transparency, but has removed some of that information after it may have proved to be a little too transparent, possibly compromising some citizens’ safety.

Included on the site was a map overlay pinpointing Philadelphians who recently filed gun permit appeals, including their names, addresses and grounds for appeal, with a link leading to more information including the appeal status, decision date and any further court action. That information was removed soon after Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post wrote a web post titled “These Philadelphians Want Gun Permits” listing details of some of the more humorous appeals.

Mayor Michael Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald could not say if the decision to remove the information from the site was a direct result of the blog post, but he did cite it as one example of the inability to predict how the data is used once it’s released. “If you looked at the Philly Post thing, you saw it exposes stuff that raises a question,” he said. “As part of the open data thing, we decided to put this information out. Then, some within the government asked the question, ‘Wait a minute.’”

McDonald checked with the Law Department and found the information’s release was not illegal. “The city Law Department concludes that it was a legal and permissible thing to do it,” he said. “It is public information. The basic argument here being that when somebody files an appeal, they essentially waive the right to confidentiality and publication, therefore, it would be a legal thing to do.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s an advisable thing to do. McDonald went on to say that balancing public safety and governmental transparency is something the city, like many, is still working out in a new technological landscape. “What we have here is a clash of values or goals,” he said. “On the one hand, the city wants to be transparent and believes in the concept of open data. Residents and citizens have a right to as much information as we can provide under the law and that makes for a strong, informed taxpaying citizenry. On the other hand, there are public safety concerns with this information.”

He said it has not been decided if the data will be re-released – electronically, anyway. “What we’re doing is conducting a review to see how we want to handle this,” he said. “Conceivably, we might redact some information on these gun permit appeals, that could be a potential solution, or we might decide it’s public information, but we’re not going to make it electronically available. If you want to see it, you can come down and look at it in person.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

Movies

Interview: 'The Quiet Ones' star Sam Claflin on…

"Hunger Games" co-star Sam Claflin talks about his new horror film "The Quiet Ones," plus how technology connects him with fans.

Going Out

Spend an evening in Franklin Square

Support historic Franklin Square on May 15 during the sixth annual Evening in Franklin Square soiree. The evening includes dinner, dancing, a silent auction and…

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.