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County asks appeals court to overturn ruling on mapping data

SAN JOSE, USA, 13 June 2007: Santa Clara County implored a state appeals court to reverse a judge’s order that it release sophisticated regional maps, saying sensitive geographic information could end up in terrorists’ hands.

The county’s petition came yesterday in response to the Superior Court judge’s decision last month that it make public the digital mapping data, known as GIS Basemaps, which show all county land including property boundaries and tax assessor’s parcel numbers.

County officials are concerned about disclosing “secret, sensitive and critical information including the San Francisco Bay Area’s main water supply, gas pipelines and electrical transmission and distribution components.”

“As far as we can tell, this appeal appears to be primarily motivated by the county’s fear of losing a revenue source from public records created at public expense – records that, under the Public Records Act, the county was never supposed to be selling in the first place,” Rachel Matteo-Boehm, a lawyer for the group, said in an e-mail statement.

Peter Scheer, the coalition’s Executive Director, said much of the “sensitive” data the county says it needs to protect already is available through other sources.
Many cities and counties around the country provide such maps, the group argues. Some local governments restrict information on sensitive sites, however.