Haines-based heli-ski operators want GPS data kept secret

January 17, 2012 

MARC LESTER / DAILY NEWS ARCHVIE

GPS data that Haines-based heli-ski companies are required to collect and submit to public lands regulators should be considered a trade secret and withheld from general public access, some guides say. The Haines Borough Assembly voted 4-2 last week to consider an ordinance making the GPS data confidential, reports the Chilkat Valley News.

April e-mails [to the borough] from Sean Brownell of Alaska Heliskiing and Scott Sundberg of Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures ... requested that GPS data be proprietary. ...

Brownell wrote that the data should remain confidential unless "there is a specific complaint about an area with a date, then they could possibly look at the data that corresponds to the complaint.""Otherwise the info should remain confidential," he wrote. "You will be giving away our trade secrets and competitors in the heliskiing industry would have access to all our research and confidential information about where we ski." ...

Residents Scott Carey, Pam Randles, Heidi Robichaud and Deborah Vogt spoke against the change on Tuesday, citing a need for accountability.

"To have an expectation of secrecy over something that is performed in the public view is counterintuitive to me, and I don't think it would pass state law," Vogt said.

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