Ontario court schedules are now available online (http://www.ontariocourtdates.ca/). This is a big step in the right direction but the goal is still miles away.

In order to access the court information you have to agree not to republish it anywhere, and solve a CAPTCHA. The CAPTCHA is there to stop people from programmatically harvesting court schedules and the contract is there so they can sue people if they do it anyway.

This system is not open. The information is displayed online but only behind a gate that the courts control. The Ontario courts still don't believe that regular people should know what goes on in the justice system. Why not make the information open to everyone?

Judges, lawyers and the public know that secret courts are bad. Yet here we are in 2014 Ontario with a court system that actively enforces secrecy through CAPTCHA and licensing restrictions.

Some people wonder: why should dates be made public? What will people do with it? That's asking the wrong question. The right question is why not make data available?

If data stays closed off then no one will ever find out what interesting software could have existed. Imagine if Google had to negotiate deals with each site on the Internet. It wouldn't exist, and no one would miss it because it never had a chance to exist.

Who should own Ontario's court data? The courts or the public? Do we want a Google for courts? Do we want a Wikipedia for courts? Don't expect the Superior Court of Justice to build thees things for you.