Congressional staffer’s salaries are now online, is that good?

Bill McGeveran discusses the availability of congressional staffer’s salary information on the web and suggests that in cases like these the goal of governmental openness are minimal while the privacy implications for those whose information is revealed are not, and thus on balance the public is not well served by having the information out there. I agree with him that openness is laudable but that disclosures should always be balanced with the right to privacy. For example, anyone can go down to the Middlesex County clerk’s office and find out how much I paid for my condo, but very few people actually will because the “speedbump” of having to make the trip and pay the fee is enough to discourage casual snooping. Often openness is good, sometimes it is bad, and sometimes limited openness is the best approach. Putting the salaries of young congressional aides online doesn’t seem to have much public interest benefit, but then again maybe we just haven’t figured out what that benefit is yet.