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I agree it can be done (just a scan or camera-phone picture of the bill), but since the taxpayer money already fund collection, I think it's better to start by convincing those who are supposed to represent the general interest :).
I wanted to know more about all this economist secrecy stuff too.
They not only can attach that data to individuals and thus to demographics, but it is also tracked by the hour.
You can't be me, I'm taken
I do know our gas stations are starting to squeal. At first with Costco at $2.79 they were still holding to $3.09. Not anymore. Down to 2.89 and fading. 6-8 big high speed fueling stations has to be really taking a big market share.
But I have some (small) hope that if a certain candidate is elected in 2007, a lot of arrogant people in the administration will have to deal with what citizen want and change a bit their habits.
There's no reason why they shouldn't release price data. It doesn't have to indicate the names of the stores where it was collected. They release plenty of data about citizens from the census -- which (in France at least) is nominative, though no names are made public.
BTW, your experience with BLS and INSEE fits with my feelings about each, from attempting to collate data from their web sites. The BLS is fairly open, INSEE is fairly shut. I think INSEE has never been told to do otherwise. It's true it would be nice to see that change...
I don't see a reason to remove the store name, I don't ask them either to release their data on the spot. After say three monthes would be fine and would protect any hypothetical business interest while preserving usefulness for everyone.
I don't think INSEE is alone here, most (if not all) french administration have no culture of being friendly about releasing their data.
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