Author’s Note: In 2014, as a law student at the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Law, I wrote an analysis of Missouri Revised Statute § 67.1850. That’s the Missouri statute which grants local governments several unusual powers and great control over the public’s right to access government-held GIS data. My view is that the statute’s enumerated powers run counter to good economic development practices, common sense, and the principles supporting the public’s right to government transparency as codified in the Missouri Sunshine Act. This article makes my case for either repealing or reforming § 67.1850. I’m not just repackaging an old paper for the web. I’m going to update, enhance, and provide links that demonstrate how Missouri’s local governments are misusing the statute, and ultimately harming themselves. – Chris Dunn
VI. Missouri Revised Statute § 67.1850 (2013)
67. 1850. Definitions–geographical information systems, public availability, creation and maintenance, fee, liability
1. As used in this section, the following terms mean:
(1) “Community”, any municipality or county as defined in this section;
(2) “County”, any county form of government;
(3) “Geographical information system”, a computerized, spatial coordinate mapping and relational database technology which:
(a) Captures, assembles, stores, converts, manages, analyzes, amalgamates and records, in the digital mode, all kinds and types of information and data;
(b) Transforms such information and data into intelligence and subsequently retrieves, presents and distributes that intelligence to a user for use in making the intelligent decisions necessary for sound management;
(4) “Municipality”, any city located in any county.
2. The development of geographical information systems has not been undertaken in any large-scale and useful way by private enterprise. The use of modern technology can enhance the planning and decision-making processes of communities. The development of geo-graphical information systems is a time-consuming and expensive activity. In the interest of maintaining community governments open and accessible to the public, information gathered by communities for use in a geographical information system, unless properly made a closed record, should be available to the public. However, access to the information in a way by which a person could render the investment of the public in a geographical information system a special benefit to that person, and not to the public, should not be permitted.
3. Any community as defined in this section may create a geographical information system for the community. The scope of the geographical information system shall be determined by the governing body of the community. The method of creation, maintenance, use and distribution of the geographical information system shall be determined by the governing body of the community. A community shall not mandate the use of this system or allocate the costs of the system to nonusers.
4. The information collected or assimilated by a community for use in a geographical information system shall not be withheld from the public, unless otherwise properly made a closed record of the community as provided by section 610.021. The information collected or assimilated by a community for use in a geographical information system need not be disclosed in a form which may be read or manipulated by computer, absent a license agreement between the community and the person requesting the information.
5. Information collected or assimilated by a community for use in a geographical information system and disclosed in any form, other than in a form which may be read or manipulated by computer, shall be provided for a reasonable fee, as established by section 610.026. A community maintaining a geographical information system shall make maps and other products of the system available to the public. The cost of the map or other product shall not exceed a reasonable fee representing the cost to the community of time, equipment and personnel in the production of the map or other product. A community may license the use of a geographical information system. The total cost of licensing a geographical information system may not exceed the cost, as established by section 610.026 of the:
(1) Cost to the community of time, equipment and personnel in the production of the information in a geographical information system or the production of the geographical information system; and
(2) Cost to the community of the creation, purchase, or other acquisition of the information in a geographical information system or of the geographical information system.
6. The provisions of this section shall not hinder the daily or routine collection of data from the geographical information system by real estate brokers and agents, title collectors, developers, surveyors, utility companies, banks, news media or mortgage companies, nor shall the provisions allow for the charging of fees for the collection of such data exceeding that allowed pursuant to section 610.026. The provisions of this section, however, shall allow a community maintaining a geographical information system to license and establish costs for the use of the system’s computer program and computer software, and may also establish costs for the use of computer programs and computer software that provide access to information aggregated with geographic information system information.
7. A community distributing information used in a geographical in-formation system or distributing a geographical information system shall not be liable for any damages which may arise from any error which may exist in the information or the geographical information system.
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