NGA bans flight data from public view

Agency cites intellectual property rights as reason for policy shift

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) will remove most of its aeronautical data and publications from public view in the next two years.

That means public mapmakers and librarians will no longer have access to many of the most detailed aeronautical charts and data of the world. But they can still get maps with a scale of 1-to-250,000 to 1-to-5 million because they are less detailed.

NGA said it took this action primarily because of the growing number of international source providers claiming intellectual property rights. Mapmakers and librarians said Australia, which has the best maps for Indonesia — an important battleground in the war on terrorism — insisted that NGA no longer publish for public access the aeronautical charts and data Australia produces, pays for and shares with the agency.

"The removal of this aeronautical data from general public access will assure the continued availability of information vital to national security," said James Clapper, NGA director and a retired Air Force three-star general, in a statement.

NGA said the decision does not affect government agencies and authorized government contractors, and aviators can still get charts and data from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA said its nautical data and publications will continue to be publicly available.

NGA will remove the worldwide Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File (DAFIF) that comes in a CD-ROM format from public sale in January 2006 and stop distributing it via the Internet in October 2006. The agency will also stop selling versions of the Flight Information Publications that cover airspace outside the United States in October 2006 and remove other versions that contain information about U.S. airspace in October 2007.

NGA said it believes it has reached a compromise with librarians and mapmakers by making available some of its aeronautical charts and data, including two maps that librarians use for research and education. The agency also gave them 22 months to adjust to the change and took six months to listen and respond to their comments, said Jim Mohan, an NGA spokesman. However, many mapmakers and librarians are still critical of the decision.

"A very bad precedent has been set whereby the introduction of any copyright-protected material renders a massive public-domain database off-limits to the public," said Kent Lee, president and chief executive officer of East View Cartographic.

"NGA could have offered a redacted version of the databases and stripped DAFIF of its Australian-supplied data so they could be kept public and available," said Patrice McDermott, deputy director of government relations at the American Library Association.

Matt Francis, a spokesman for the Australian Embassy in the United States, said Airservices Australia, a government-owned organization, operates as a corporation and sells charts and data to worldwide customers.

He said Airservices Australia published the changes to its aeronautical data licensing arrangements, which started in September 2003.

"The corporation is concerned that in the absence of a licensing system, commercial redistributors who sell the data to airlines and other customers are not bound by controls intended to ensure the data remains accurate as those customers use it," according to a press release issued by Airservices Australia in July 2003.

The NGA hit list

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will eliminate many versions of the Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File (DAFIF) and the Flight Information Publications (Flip) from public access in the next two years. DAFIF contains in-depth information about runways, airfields, airspace, navigation aids and military training routes worldwide, and Flip features detailed diagrams of global airports. Here is the timetable for removing information.

  • January 2006: DAFIF CD-ROMs.
  • October 2006: DAFIF online version, Flip versions covering airspace outside the United States.
  • October 2007: Flip versions covering airspace inside the United States.

— Frank Tiboni

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group