Angle Points: Electronic Data

A 126Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Over the last few months, there have been news reports about identity theft and misappropriation of electronic data and information. Gone are the days of the surveyor’s map being inked on linen, and sealed with a large mechanical device pressing the raised image into the drawing.

Today, as with other professions and our personal lives, we are delivering most of our work and communicating electronically and by way of email. Accordingly, we should adopt a better sense of security to protect ourselves and our clients. There are two primary instances where these techniques, or modifications of same, should be employed. First, in the transmission of email and second, within the document itself as either an attachment or, as can be some with some CAD programs, as an inserted note or text in a bundled or e-transmitted file such as a *.zip file. For email communication, I would recommend the following disclaimer.

The information contained in this email message is intended only for use of the individual or entity named above. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately notify us by telephone at 618-555-8000 and by email at and destroy the original message.

Any and all documents prepared by me or under my direct supervision, if attached to this email and unless otherwise noted, are issued in accordance with Section xxxx of The Professional Land Surveyors Act and unless noted otherwise, are "Preliminary" documents. All final surveys, reports, and drawings, issued by me or an associate of XYZ Company will be signed and stamped in accordance with the Business and Professions Code.

This email is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 codified at 18 U.S.C. §§2510 – 2522 and the Stored Communications Act at 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-12.

With regards to the transmission of electronic drawings, language along these lines should be considered and made as a condition of acceptance of the work product:

By accepting any digital files, electronic files or CAD drawings published by Mary Jones, PLS, DBA Mary Jones Surveying, hereinafter referred to as "JONES," you are hereby bound to the following terms and conditions unless an express exception is provided. Any use of these files is at your own risk.

By accepting these files, you, and your agents, as the user, agree to waive any claim against JONES and you will defend, indemnify, and hold JONES harmless from any claim or liability for injury or loss allegedly arising from any reuse of these files by you, as the user or any of your agents or, any third party that may use these files.

The delivery of any CAD drawings should not be construed to provide an express warranty or guarantee to you, your agents or any third party that all dimensions and details are exact or to indicate that the use of said drawing implies the review and approval by JONES of any future use. Any use of said information is at the sole risk and liability of you as the user. The release of these files to you does not authorize you to release or transfer these files to any other parties.

The transfer of any digital or electronic files does not transfer any license to use the underlying or associated software nor does it extinguish the rights of JONES to reuse the information in the general course of professional practice.

Information contained in any signed and sealed "hard copy" documents is to be deemed to be correct and superior to electronic information and unless stated otherwise, all files are considered preliminary.

As Dylan said, "The Times they are a changing."

Michael Pallamary, PS, is the author of several books and numerous articles. He is a frequent lecturer at conferences and seminars and he teaches real property to attorneys and other members of the legal profession. He has been in the surveying profession since 1971.

A 126Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE