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In the wake of the September 11 attacks, some U.S. federal agencies curtailed public access to various sources of geospatial information. While recognizing many public and private benefits of such information, officials were concerned that terrorists and other adversaries could exploit certain data (e.g., maps and overhead images) to attack key American assets and critical infrastructure. In the years since making those initial restrictions, however, policymakers have wrestled with how to distinguish between potentially sensitive information, which need not be restricted from the public, and truly sensitive information, to which public access must be restricted. To address this need, RAND developed an analytical process that U.S. officials can use to assess and filter publicly available geospatial information that has homeland security implications.

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