The recent hacking of climate scientist's email accounts and the subsequent furore in the media would suggest it is a new phenomenon. In fact it isn't. The whole history of science is littered with cases of data abuse and misuse, as well sabotage and devious machinations.
What has caught the public's interest here, of course, is the very real fact that the interpretation of the data is forming global strategies and local tax policies. For once the science is the story. Within the uproar there are all kinds of requests and such a passing bandwagon is an ideal target for those frustrated by capitalist dictatorships.
The calls for freedom of data and open analysis also fall wide of the mark. The random processing of data will increase confusion and allow all kinds of distractive, unsubstantiated claims to he made. Climate data modeling is a difficult task and every extra parameter increases both the complexity and the multitude of answers. Data like this does need expert analysis - but there also needs to e honesty and integrity from the scientists.
What the story really shows, however, is the crisis in funding. Most funding still comes from government and so it pays for the scientist to find results that secure funding. I am not suggesting a blatant manipulation of data - but enough of a conflict to overlook one rogue point. The irony is, of course, that scientists are in this position because they have questioning minds and seek to distill knowledge from data. But it is not only money that potentially blinds - it is the difficulty of going against the grain of common thinking. The amateur using the Galaxy Zoo project found a whole new categorisation of galaxies largely because they did not presuppose the nature of the data.
The climate controversy will rage long after the Copenhagen Conference. There are probably plenty of factors at work - including a man made influence. What us clear, however, is the consequences of a warming Earth are the same whatever the cause and people would do well to remember that.