Geographic Information Systems and Legal Liability

Kerrin Stewart, George CHO, Eugene Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and 'automated mapping', as in
other areas'of information technology, has inevitably led to questions about
the extent of liability relating to its use. Liability questions involve the tarts!
of negligence, misrepresentation and strict product liability. GIS as an end
product is the culmination of a combination of events including data
gathering, human input, software and hardware components and computer
programs. The chance of error is omnipresent with the combination of each
component in the system. Added to this, is the potential difficulty of
identifying and distinguishing where such errors have occurred. While the
GIS process involves a chain of separate events, it may be difficult if not
impossible first to identify the source and second to assign liability far error.
Yet, this notion of accountability is extremely important in terms of the
confidence consumers may place in the reliability and credibility of the
technology far business activities. This reliance on GIS products gives rise to
issues of liability, including the following: what exactly is the responsibility
of each of the GIS players - the technology providers, the data providers and
intermediaries and the users; does the existing law clarify their position; and,
what steps may each of the players take to minimize liability?3 This paper
addresses these important issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-112
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Law and Information Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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