Are Municipal GIS Data Subject to Open Records Law? Greenwich Take 2
Greenwich v. FOI Commission, the court battle in Greenwich, CT that sparked debate across the country regarding the sale of public data, and the balance between security and privacy, continues. On May 15, 2008, Erin Lynch of the Fairfield County Weekly reported that the Town of Greenwich, Connecticut, is appealing a 2006 decision by the Freedom of Information Commission requiring the release of aerial imagery maintained in its municipal GIS database:
In an effort to overturn a state Freedom of Information Commission ruling, Greenwich is appealing a 2006 decision that not only found the town was in violation of the law, but could save a former First Selectman from paying a $100 fine. Question: at what cost to taxpayers?
The FOI Commission slapped the former selectman, Jim Lash, with the fine in 2006 after it ruled that he withheld public documents from Greenwich resident Stephen Whitaker. The town is appealing the decision in New Britain Superior Court, and oral arguments for the case are expected to begin next month.
The ruling stems from a 2001 incident in which Whitaker requested access to Greenwich‘s Geographic Information System (GIS), a municipal database with property information and aerial photos. In 2002, the commission ruled in Whitaker’s favor, but the decision was appealed by the town. Whitaker ultimately won access to the documents in 2005, but the town is still battling over whether he is allowed access to updates to the GIS system—something the tonier-than-thou town says could be a security risk. …
For full text of this article, visit http://www.fairfieldweekly.com/article.cfm?aid=7848
Source: Fairfield County Weekly
- A Records Roadmap: Journalists Often Struggle to Gain Access to GIS Data (News Media & The Law, Summer 2005)
- Connecticut Cities Differ on Providing GIS Data (GeoCarta, 2005)
- Greenwich GIS Data Goes Online (GIS News, 2007)