OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2001-546|
|Respondents||November 13, 2002|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 25, 2002, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that, by letter dated December 4, 2001, the complainant requested that the comptroller of Greenwich provide him with copies of the GIS Backup tapes, specifically, orthophotography, “arc info coverages”, SQL server databases referenced to GIS data, and all documentation created to support coverages [hereinafter the “requested records”.]
3. It is found that the respondent maintains the requested records which are described more fully herein: the orthophotography consists of a complete set of photographic images of the town taken from an aircraft, which are corrected for spatial distortions and lens curvature; the “arc info coverages” consists of the non-exempt data compiled by the town of Greenwich for use in its GIS software, including points, lines and polygons depicting road center lines, building footprints, possibly water and sewer lines, planned fiber optic networks and survey points, which can be overlaid on the orthophotography; the SQL server databases consist of non-exempt data compiled by the town of Greenwich for use in its tax assessment databases, including property ownership, assessed value, prior assessed value, and address; and the support documentation consists of a record of when data was inputted, what source was used, who input the data, how accurate the data is, and how often it is updated.
4. It is found that, by letter dated December 4, 2001, the comptroller described in paragraph 2, above, informed the complainant that the request described therein had been forwarded to the respondent. It is also found that, by letter dated December 10, 2001, the respondent informed the complainant that such request was denied pursuant to §§1-210(b)(5) and 1-210(b)(20), G.S., but the respondent offered to provide the complainant with printed copies of aerial photos and maps, upon payment of a fee.
5. By letter dated December 12, 2001, and filed with the Commission on December 13, 2001, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information [hereinafter “FOI”] Act by denying the complainant copies of the requested records.
6. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212….
7. Section 1-211(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[a]ny public agency which maintains public records in a computer storage system shall provide, to any person making a request pursuant to the [FOI] Act, a copy of any nonexempt data contained in such records, properly identified, on paper, disk, tape or any other electronic storage device or medium requested by the person, if the agency can reasonably make such copy or have such copy made. Except as otherwise provided by state statute, the cost for providing a copy of such data shall be in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.
8. Section 1-212(b), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[t]he fee for any copy provided in accordance with subsection (a) of section 1-211 shall not exceed the cost thereof to the public agency. In determining such costs for a copy, other than for a printout, which exists at the time that the agency responds to the request for such copy, an agency may include only:
(1) An amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to all agency employees engaged in providing the requested computer-stored public record, including their time performing the formatting or programming functions necessary to provide the copy as requested, but not including search or retrieval costs except as provided in subdivision (4) of this subsection;
(2) An amount equal to the cost to the agency of engaging an outside professional electronic copying service to provide such copying services, if such service is necessary to provide the copying as requested;
(3) The actual cost of the storage devices or media provided to the person making the request in complying with such request; and
4) The computer time charges incurred by the agency in providing the requested computer-stored public record where another agency or contractor provides the agency with computer storage and retrieval services….
9. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-210(a), 1-211(a), and 1-212(b), G.S.
10. The respondent contends that release of the requested records could lead to severe security problems in the town of Greenwich. Specifically, the respondent contends that, as an affluent community in which wealthy diplomats, entertainers, authors, and chief executive officers reside, Greenwich is susceptible to jewel thieves and kidnappers, and that release of overhead views of topography, fences, security measures, and escape routes could be helpful to potential criminals. In addition, the respondent contends that, since the president and vice president of the United States visit the town, release of the requested records, which essentially consist of a “footprint” of the entire town, could impede security measures for those persons. Additionally, the respondent contends that release of the requested records could provide identity thieves with powerful information. Also, the respondent contends that, since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the town must be ever vigilant of terrorist threats, and the respondent believes that release of the requested records could compromise law enforcement communications networks, thereby compromising the security of the entire town.
11. It is found that the respondent has not cited a specific federal law or state statute, which would provide an exemption with respect to the contentions described in paragraph 10, above. It is therefore concluded that such contentions are speculative in nature, and as such, cannot justify withholding records under the FOI Act.
12. The respondent also contends that release of the requested records could result in a breakdown or compromising of the computer network of the town. The respondent contends that §1-210(b)(20), G.S., provides a basis to withhold the requested records.
13. Section 1-210(b)(20), G.S., exempts from mandatory disclosure:
[r]ecords of standards, procedures, processes, software and codes, not otherwise available to the public, the disclosure of which would compromise the security or integrity of an information technology system.
14. It is found that the respondent failed to provide specific evidence to demonstrate how disclosure of the requested records would compromise the security or integrity of its information technology system. It is also found that the respondent failed to prove that the requested records constitute “records of standards, procedures, processes, software and codes,” within the meaning of §1-210(b)(20), G.S. Accordingly, it is concluded that §1-210(b)(20), G.S., does not provide a basis for withholding the requested records.
15. The respondent also contends that §1-210(b)(5)(A), G.S., provides a basis to withhold the requested records.
16. Section 1-210(b)(5)(A), G.S. exempts from disclosure:
(t)rade secrets, which for purposes of the [FOI] Act, are defined as information, including formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, methods, techniques, processes, drawings, cost data, or customer lists that (i) derive independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (ii) are the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain secrecy.
17. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that the requested records constitute a trade secret, within the meaning of §1-210(b)(5)(A), G.S.
18. It is also found that property ownership, assessment values, and the location of power and sewer lines is information routinely available from other public agencies. It is also found that the respondent makes available paper copies of maps and aerial photographs of the town upon payment of copying fees. Accordingly, it is concluded that the requested records are not exempt from disclosure by virtue of §1-210(b)(5)(A), G.S.
19. Based on the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondent violated the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.
20. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant made clear that he is not requesting any exempt information, which may be contained within the requested records, such as medical information and social security numbers.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with copies of the requested records, as described in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the findings, above.
2. In complying with paragraph 1 of the order, the respondent may redact medical information and social security numbers, if any.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 13, 2002.
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
PO Box 684
Greenwich, CT 06830
Director, Department of
Town of Greenwich
c/o Haden P. Gerrish, Esq.
Assistant Town Attorney
101 Field Point Road, PO Box 2540
Greenwich, CT 06836-2540
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission