The Industry Website

Register Login
or sign in with

Web's Largest listing of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding events


Web's Largest Directory of Sites

2,647 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites

Google Map of Gun Permit Holders Sparks Open Data Arms Race
© Image: Eric Blattberg /

Google Map of Gun Permit Holders Sparks Open Data Arms Race

The Journal News, a suburban New York newspaper, set off a fiery debate about transparency and open data Saturday when it posted an interactive Google Map showing the names and addresses of all handgun permit holders in New York's Westchester and Rockland Counties.

Conceived in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, the newspaper’s map and accompanying report answer the question, “Where are the gun permits in your neighborhood?” But a number of readers think that data should not be so readily accessible.

“This is the most egregious, irresponsible ‘journalism’ I have ever seen,” wrote one commenter. “This makes targets of the homes with guns as well as those without.”

“What are you so paranoid about? This is public record,” countered another. (The Journal News acquired the information by submitting a number of Freedom of Information requests to New York State.)

Upset by the newspaper’s data dump, Connecticut lawyer Christopher Fountain engineered one of his own, posting Journal News employees’ personal data on his blog. The post contains addresses and phone numbers for more than 50 of the paper’s journalists and employees, as well as email addresses, social media profiles, hobbies, and other details. Fountain has updated the list several times since its initial publication, often with assistance from the crowd.

Journal News publisher Janet Hasson, whose personal information is now available on Fountain’s blog, defended the gun permit map in a statement Wednesday.

“One of our roles is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even when unpopular,” she said. “We knew publication of the database (as well as the accompanying article providing context) would be controversial, but we felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.”

New York’s public information officer denied a number of the Journal News requests, including the number and types of guns owned by permit holders. Shotgun and rifle owners are excluded from the map entirely, as New York residents can purchase those two types of guns without a permit.

Putnam County is still processing the information requested by The Journal News, according to the newspaper’s website. Presumably, the paper will update the map when it receives the Putnam Country data.

Flag This



  • John Westra John Westra Dec 27, 2012 01:10 am GMT

    Still think a National Gun Registry is a good idea? Gun Owners of America the time is NOW to openly repel the full scale assault on Liberty and Freedom! "First they came for the Jews...". But before that they disarmed their citizens!

    Let those who wish to diminish or take away our rights, because they "know better," realize it is us, NOT them who ultimately decide. And a warning to those "Sheep" who would sacrifice essential liberty for temporary safety.... Better to be under the loving care of an armed shepherd, than wait well fed in a pen, until your owner decides to shear or slaughter you!

  • Guest Mathew Dec 27, 2012 08:35 am GMT

    @John: You do realise that Americans are the only people in the Western World who think like that, and that the rest of us think you're all nuts, right? Or are you so arrogant that you think everyone else in the world is somehow 'less free' because they don't live with the constant threat of being shot by their neighbour?

  • John Westra John Westra Dec 29, 2012 10:08 pm GMT

    @Mathew - You do realize that Americans have consistently stood in the gap and sacrificed their best to keep fascism, totalitarianism and terrorism in check? Having been one of those who put their life on the line to this end, I can tell you the arrogance you speak of, pales in comparison to the heartfelt belief, proven accurate by history, that it is not long after citizens are disarmed and there are no allies (The United States) to intercede, people are enslaved!

    I would be more than happy to debate this with you further, on a publicly streamed video broadcast, using standard debate protocols. If you believe your "facts" and arguments will hold up to this level of scrutiny, this open challenge is yours to accept!

  • Eric Mack Eric Mack Dec 30, 2012 02:47 pm GMT

    So, thanks for chiming in, but in the interest of focus, let's keep in mind that the real topic at hand here is crowdsourcing. You think what the newspaper did is somehow a threat to gun ownership, Mr. Westra? In a world where so much information is available online, how do you think this affects 2nd amendment rights?

  • Guest entity.z Jan 14, 2013 09:38 pm GMT

    On technical merit, the newspaper was perfectly legal in publishing public record info, and the lawyer probably violated privacy laws by publishing private contact information without permission.

    Strategically, the newspaper's action was a clever use of crowdsourcing. Call it "crowd judgment". The newspaper gambled that the sentiment of the community would embarrass and maybe even ostracize gun owners, perhaps in the same way that sex offenders in the community are ostracized. Certainly from the reaction of gun owners, the embarrassment gamble worked.

    It will validate the crowdsourcing concept if the majority of the community judges that the gun owners should be shunned and avoided.

 Join or Login