Last December, we reported on the National Geospatial Agency's (NGA) announced intention to withdraw maps from the public, based on a number of concerns:
- safeguarding the integrity of Department of Defense (DoD) aeronautical
navigation data currently available on the public Internet;
- preventing unfettered access to air facility data by those intending harm to the United States, its interests or allies;
- upholding terms of bi-lateral geospatial data-sharing agreements;
- avoiding competition with commercial interests; and
- avoiding intellectual property/copyright disputes with foreign agencies that provide host-nation aeronautical data.
Unusually, the NGA solicited comments prior to making a final rule. Now Secrecy News reports that NGA's decision will be to remove databases of aeronautical information from public access next year. The NGA's press release announced it will remove Flight Information Publications (FLIP) and Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File (DAFIF) from public access.
NGA's press release further states that:
"NGA, in consultation with the Federal Aviation Agency has determined that this action will not affect chart products for US airspace or Caribbean and South American charts and also Pacific, Australia, and Antarctica charts in areas considered part of the US Flight Information Region. NGA has decided not to withdraw paper map products to a scale of 1:250,000 to 1:500,000. These products will continue to be available to the public.
The first phase of the product withdrawal begins in January 2006 with the removal of worldwide DAFIF from public sale. The electronic publication of DAFIF over the World Wide Web (www) and public sale of NGA FLIP outside US airspace will cease in October 2006. The remaining NGA FLIP will be removed from public access in October 2007."
An anonymous source reported to Secrecy News that "It sets "a very bad precedent" when "the introduction of any copyright-protected material renders a massive public-domain database off-limits to the public," "Many, many other databases are at stake." "The decision that NGA should have taken, in my view, was to have offered a redacted version of the databases for public sale. DAFIF -- a really big database -- could easily have been stripped of its Australian-supplied [copyrighted] data and kept public and available," according to the source.