NGA reviewing public comments

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency officials started reviewing hundreds of public responses that the agency received earlier this month regarding a plan to bar the public from viewing its aeronautical and navigational data and publications.

NGA officials are also talking with a number of interest groups who expressed concerns. They expect to complete the evaluation period by mid-September and plan to make a final decision in October or November, according to a July 1 agency statement.

“Agency officials will assess and evaluate the public input to make a final determination if it is necessary to change or modify the original proposal,” according to the statement.

Some librarians, commercial mapmakers and public interest group members became angry in November 2004 when NGA — without seeking public comment — announced that it planned to end public sale and distribution of its flight information publications, Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File data and navigation planning charts. NGA officials said they were concerned about infringing on copyrights and providing information to terrorists. All those information sources are available copyright-free in print or online at NGA’s Web site.

NGA officials want to make the information available only to authorized warfighters, intelligence analysts, defense contractors and government officials through the Defense Department’s distribution system. Last December, however, they said they would seek comments before making a final decision.

NGA analyzes sea, air and ground pictures from sensors, satellites and spy aircraft. The agency also makes maps for U.S. warfighters and intelligence analysts.

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