We recently added this new API listing to the US government site USAspending.gov which provides API access to budget data, but we didn't notice a detail which one of our readers did: that there's a somewhat intimidating, red-text warning on the homepage that says:
WARNING: This is a United States Federal Government computer system that is "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY." This system is subject to monitoring. Therefore, no expectation of privacy is to be assumed. Individuals found performing unauthorized activities are subject to disciplinary action including criminal prosecution. Click here for more information.
In his blog post Coby Logen points to a variety of potential issues and inconsistencies in the site:
- "For Official Use Only" — This means the information is sensitive, but unclassified. If this is true, then USASpending.gov contains information that should not be released to the public.
- Unauthorized activities — What exactly would be unauthorized? If the information on the site really is "For official use only", then it is unauthorized for a private citizen to even access the information.
And later on notes that:
In the meantime, you've been warned.