Obsfuscation as a method of closed data

By Gavin, 17th June 2010

Things wrong with Companies House Crown Copyright data disclosure (which allows free copying)

Get the DVD rom of the data – SIGH

£30 for a copy of the data – PARTIAL WIN (it’s accessible)

£1200 if you want to actually save the data – FAIL

Crown Copyright Data is in a closed format –  FAIL (although in a trivially hackable form)

DVD self-destructs after 6 months – WTF!
(not stated at the point of sale, or on the phone when I called them)

Then it gets worse;

Windows *only* — not stated anywhere apart from the booklet inside the DVD (e.g. not on the website, phone or on the outside of the DVD)

Uses ActiveX wrapped into an executable — so I had to reset my default browser to IE…

Requires the DVD to be in the drive (“please insert DVD number XXX”) — so tied to that specific DVD

Has an “Award for excellence” badge on the back of the DVD.

My verdict: 1/10.  Not excellent. Not even good. I couldn’t do what I needed to with this open, Crown Copyright data. They have an XML API, but that is traffic-restricted.

FOI request sent.

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