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Government mapping agency blocks access to certain maps

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Freedom of Information         Oct 3, 2001    

Government mapping agency blocks access to certain maps

  • National Imagery and Mapping Agency prohibited the public from copying or buying specific maps while they were being reviewed for security reasons.

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency blocked access to several maps in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, while officials reviewed the maps for national security purposes.

“It was a precautionary measure,” said Joan Mears, a spokeswoman for NIMA.

The agency prohibited the selling or copying of all NIMA topographic maps, but some maps have been made available to the public again. Maps of U.S. military installations and detailed maps of the United States are still under review.

Mears said these maps were under consideration because of the areas they detailed.

“The NIMA decided it would be prudent to take a look at what was out there, given light of the events on Sept. 11 and the underlying threat of further attacks,” Mears said.

According to Mears, NIMA directed the U.S. Geological Survey and the Federal Aviation Administration to halt sales of all topographical maps made by NIMA. NIMA also ordered the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration to deny public access to these maps. The only maps that were not taken into review were the nautical and aeronautical maps, which are used for air and sea navigation.

“Many of the maps were being reviewed as they were requested,” Mears said.

NIMA was created in 1996 and handles mapping and imagery services for the Defense Department and intelligence agencies. The majority of the maps are classified, but some maps and satellite images are made available to the public through certain organizations.

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© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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