In France, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not autorise ethnic statistics. Cons argue that there are strong risks that these stats be used against minorities. They also stress on that the "Republique" concept would be put at stake, some bad people could try to stress on the weaknesses of certain ethnic groups, for instance. And indeed, it is a fact that so far the usage of that type of data have largely been made by specialists, researcher, and obviously... politicians. And we all know that this last group is generally inclined to reveal only the information that favors their political views, forging in some way the outcome of research works and surveys. But, a result of the prohibition of ethnic data, we don't even know precisely how large are each communities ; muslims, arabs, Black Africans, Asians and so on...
Households in the UK (OFNS)
Asians have largest households
Those who are in favor of Ethnic Open Data (among which the author of this post) would instead argue that if the stats are broadly available, it could nothing else than enhance the debate. Arguably in fact, to prevent anyone from forging the data, the only option would be to leave these largely accessible to the broad masses.
We all know that is it indeed the goal of some Open Data projects. Now that there exists the possibility for everyone to access and
interact with data, it is just nonsense to forbid the use of such data. On the contrary, a large usage of such data could only enhance the integration of these ethnic communities, with a better understanding of who are these people, that are actually part of our nation.
Employment Patterns Pakistanis most likely to be self-employed
The problem remains that until these datas become easy to use only specialist and highly motivated people will be courageous enough to datacrunch and find out valuable information. Government can indeed try to set things for you but no information is as valuable that those coming directly from crowd-sources, or at least expert that comes out of the People.
Some could argue that people sometimes do ugly things ; they forge the truth about Wold War II, they put some nasty and anonymous comments on blogs... We can't really on them.
That may be true, but when it is quite easy to check something, no one really try to prove the contrary. That is all the challenge to come about Open.data, and dataviz.
Providing interesting and efficient data tools to anyone would mean letting anyone have access to a second degree of information. It would increase reason and rationalization ; skills and assets that have clearly been quite scarce when it regards dealing with ethnicity. Opendata is there not only a mater of efficiency for democracy but it may also be a very smart manner to fight populist. That too could benefit to France.