OKGC is representing Jo Daviess County in a FOIA case of first impression—whether geographic information systems (GIS) data is exempt under FOIA. Jo Daviess withheld the data under a FOIA exemption, and the plaintiff sued. OKGC defended the County and was successful on a motion for summary judgment. The appellate court just affirmed that ruling.
By way of background, GIS data is collected by counties with respect to property parcel boundaries and general land features. Counties store this data in a GIS system. The systems are expensive to maintain, and frequently commercial requesters (like the plaintiff in our case) are seeking to obtain the data for free under FOIA, and then they re-package it for sale. On November 30th, the Appellate Court issued its opinion affirming summary judgment in favor of the County in the Jo Daviess case. The plaintiff still has the option to decide whether to move for rehearing or file a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. Please review the memo prepared by Jane May of OKGC, which explains the court’s reasoning.