Google, CDT call for more searchable government

It's time -- high time -- for government agencies to make their websites much more friendly to web search engines. That's what Google and Wikipedia plan to tell a homeland security Senate committee Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

It's time -- high time -- for government agencies to make their websites much more friendly to web search engines. That's what Google and Wikipedia plan to tell a homeland security Senate committee Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

The Center for Democracy and Technology and OMBWatch are releasing a report that points out just how poorly government content is reflected in the big search engines.

Ari Schwartz, CDT"It could be unintentional oversight or incompetence," said Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the CDT.

According to the report, simple queries -- about, say, small-farm loans, or visitation rights for grandparents -- miss critical information because many agencies do not organize their Web sites so they can be easily indexed by search engines.

Some agencies embed codes in their sites that make certain pages invisible to search engines. This means searchers often must click through an agency's home page to find relevant sites.

OMB's Karen Evans said the problem is how agencies organize their content and the need to protect citizen privacy. But neither of these seem to hold much water. Privacy is not the issue, Schwartz said, because all they have to do is stop No-Spider-ing, not expose any confidential databases.

Jimmy Wales said agencies should be writing their own histories on Wikipedia and making government content more searchable will improve Wikipedia across the board.

"It's really important for the notion of public participation for [agencies] to be striving to be as open as possible," he said.

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