So says The Grauniad. Its talking about public access to publicly collected data in the UK. As near as I can determine, in the US most govt-collected data is in theory and in practice freely available to citizens. In the UK this is very definitely not true: the most obvious example is the Ordnance Survey, which collects mapping data. Instead of being what it should be - a government body funded to collect, organise and disseminate mapping data, it is a psuedo-commerical organisation with revenue targets to meet by selling data, mostly straight back to other government bodies. Other examples are photos (including those from BAS :-() and scientific papers.
The Grauniad argues, and I agree, that attempting to "commercialise" these things is stupid: the goverment doesn't run businesses well, and anyway the revenue made from selling the products is probably far less that the extra economic growth (including more taxes...) that would occur if the data were just available. Not to mention that a whole pile of red tape could suddenly be axed.
That article is, apparently, the start of a Campaign: hopefully it will succeed.
[Updates: the Grauniad now has a blog about this and a web page. Both have appallingly bad web design, which is a bit odd]