May 12, 1999 Library Presentation

by Paul Hoff

Law Partner
Garvey, Schubert & Barer


Bruce McDowell

Project Director

Marty Ditmeyer

Project Assistant
National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA)

Limitations to Data Access for Disaster Management


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Slides: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

About Paul Hoff
About Marty Ditmeyer
"Data Cubes":
  1. Summarized Data for Community Planning and Policy Making
  2. Detailed Real-Time Data for Operational Planning, Training, and Response
  3. Detailed Personal and Proprietary Data for Casework

NAPA Home Page
Summary or Full Report - Legal Limits on Access to and Disclosure of Disaster Information


EIIP Virtual Library Online Presentation

Limitations to Data Access
for Emergency Management

Paul Hoff
Law Partner
Garvey, Schubert & Barer

Bruce McDowell
Project Director
National Academy of Public Administration

Martha Ditmeyer
Project Assistant
National Academy of Public Administrationp

Paul Hoff presented an overview of the findings of a recent study, conducted in support of a future "National Disaster Information Network (NDIN)," to determine legal restraints that may exist to the free exchange of data and information. The potential restraints fall into four general categories:

  • privacy issues

  • intellectual property issues, including copyrighted data

  • liability issues, including potential claims under theories of strict liability

  • security issues

Many federal and state laws apply either directly or indirectly, and these may vary widely from state to state, or from country to country. The challenges are further compounded when different data sources are combined.

The purpose of the report is to highlight the need for coordination in any implementation of an NDIN, and further, more detailed study is recommended.


Law Partner
Garvey, Schubert & Barer

Paul Hoff is a partner in Garvey, Schubert & Barer, a law firm active in the area of intellectual property and Internet practice with offices in Seattle, Portland and Washington, D.C. In his practice Paul Hoff has worked with members of a trade association on issues related to the Internet and other forms of electronic communication, particularly as they relate to government information policy, privacy, security, and taxation. He has also represented a coalition of health care providers, distributors, and manufacturers promoting the use of electronic commerce in the health care industry.

He is the author of a study published by the American Enterprise Institute on the application of antitrust law to the licensing of patents. Prior to entering law practice he was Associate Chief Counsel of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, where he worked on legislation regulating public access to government information. He is a 1967 graduate of Yale Law School and a 1964 graduate of Harvard College.

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Project Assistant
National Academy of Public Administration

Martha S. Ditmeyer, is a Project Assistant/Consultant, for the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), providing support and technical assistance for studies including: Legal Limits on Access to and Disclosure of Disaster Information (5/99); HUD Procurement Reform: Substantial Progress Underway (4/99); Geographic Information for the 21st Century: Building a Strategy for the Nation (1/98); and, Management of Compensation and Pension Benefits Claim Processess for Veterans (8/97). Former staff positions have included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and the Communications Satellite Corporation, Washington, DC, and Geneva, Switzerland.

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In today's Information Age we seldom think about not having the data we need when we need it. Our greater concern seems to be coping with the overwhelming torrents of data that come at us from all directions. So, this study of limitations on data access and disclosure in the disaster management field may seem unusual.

But, it is both real and important. As one speaker said in helping to open the Academy's January 1999 conference on this topic, these data access and disclosure limits may well become the "pacing" element in implementing a National Disaster Information Network (NDIN). What he meant was that the speed with which an NDIN can be implemented is likely to depend on the speed with which the following can be accomplished:

  • appropriate legal authorities can be agreed upon and established

  • trust can be built among the multitudinous public and private partners, who need to be part of this network

  • protections can be provided to avoid improper disclosures, and

  • the quality of data can be improved to meet the needs of users while avoiding unnecessary liabilities

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