Director, Department of Information Technology v. Freedom of Information Commission

874 A.2d 785 (2005)

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Director, Department of Information Technology v. Freedom of Information Commission

Connecticut Supreme Court
874 A.2d 785 (2005)

LJ

Facts

In December 2001, Stephen Whitaker requested geographic-information-system (GIS) data from the town of Greenwich, Connecticut. The director of the town’s department of information technology (the director) (plaintiff) denied Whitaker’s request, citing the statutory exemptions for trade secrets and for information that would compromise the security of an information-technology system. Whitaker filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission (the commission) (defendant), and the commission held that the information was not exempt from disclosure. Accordingly, the commission ordered that the director release the requested records to Whitaker. The director appealed the commission’s decision. At trial, the town’s police chief testified that the release of the GIS data could compromise the town’s security because the data provided specific details regarding the exact dimensions of structures, locations of fence lines, and topography and could reveal individual security measures put in place by private homeowners. The director also asserted that the GIS data was a trade secret because it derived economic value from not being available to members of the public, notwithstanding the fact that the information contained in the system was compiled from various public records. The trial court found that there was no nexus between the police chief’s testimony and his conclusion that the disclosure of the information could cause criminal activity. The trial court also determined that the GIS data did not constitute a trade secret. Consequently, the trial court affirmed the determination of the commission and ordered the release of the documents. The director filed an appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Vertefeuille, J.)

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