It was pointed out to me privately that I had not been very clear about who is doing this and why.
Who: The Open Genealogy Data project is currently sponsored and hosted by my company (Historic Journals), but is intended to be a community project that benefits everyone. Censcript AI (which licenses image processing and handwriting recognition software to Historic Journals for use in the project) is a separate company, also owned by me.
Why: The purpose of the project is exactly as you might infer from the name- to make genealogy data more open and accessible without the cumbersome restrictions that usually accompany data from the large genealogy organizations that already have it. I believe there are a lot of individuals, organizations, researchers, and companies that can benefit from the census and other databases, and I see no reason why they should be perpetually locked up as proprietary business assets that only a few well-funded organizations can afford to leverage completely. Those organizations obviously don't owe us the transcriptions they paid for, and so far haven't been too interested in completely opening the data (why would they?). So transcribing the data and making it available to everyone so nobody else has to go to the effort and expense again in the future seems like a worthwhile thing to do.
By opening the data, students and faculty who are researching and developing new technologies don't need permission to use it or to publish it. People and companies with good ideas for new tools or services can build them without the obstacle of obtaining the foundational data. And individuals can be more certain about how thorough their searches and research are because they have complete access to entire databases instead of just relying on black-box search algorithms.
The Open Genealogy Data project is far from alone in the push for open data. Many of you and several organizations that have participated right here on this list (FreeUKGenealogy and Reclaim the Records, just to name two that immediately come to mind) as well as libraries, museums, archives, some governments, and others throughout the world also work to make data more open.