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    During the first day of the National Genealogy Society's 2013 conference, three events focused on records access. Harold Henderson, CG, the luncheon speaker for the Association of Professional Genealogists discussed "It's Not Just the SSDI: How We Can Advocate for Genealogy While Still Practicing It." He painted a bleak picture, noting that we often are on the defensive in protecting records access. We need to "keep the toothpaste in the tube" by showing an interest broader than our personal families. Just as it's too hard to put toothpaste back in a tube, it is also too hard to get access to records that have already been closed to the public. Harold advised us to be involved in all levels of government action, from legislating bills to developing regulations. Melinde Lutz Sanborn, CG, FASG, past vice president of MGC and current president of the American Society of Genealogists, titled her...
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Fiona Gartland of the Irish Times (www.IrishTimes.com), writes: "Genealogists have raised concerns about moves to resurrect the Privacy Bill 2006, which they say could restrict access to records for genealogical or biographical research." If this bill is reintroduced and passed, will it have serious consequences on all of those seeking to trace their roots in Ireland? Click here to read Fiona's article, "Concerns bill could restrict research into roots."  Entitled an "Act to provide for a Tort of Violation of Privacy; and to provide for matters connected therewith," Privacy Bill 2006 was restored to the Order Paper of Seanad Éireann on September 25th 2012, at number nine. Based on the premise that everyone has a right to privacy, the bill seeks to guarantee a right to privacy, and in the process may restrict access to certain records.  It says, in part: Tort of violation of privacy3. Section 2 provides that it is a tort...
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Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Vice President and Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee keeps MGC up-to-date on legislative developments. Here is a summary of her latest announcement. State vital records laws that redact or restrict information can stymie genealogists.  A recent example is Virginia's law allowing only Virginia residents the right to access public records. According to the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) there are eight states that have or have had similar provisions: Arkansas, Georgia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania,  Tennessee,  and Virginia.  See: http://tinyurl.com/99emf8o. Several groups and individuals are taking this provision to the U.S. Supreme Court. One person from Rhode Island and another from California are challenging the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provision on access for only Virginia citizens. Two Federal appellate courts have each ruled differently, which is why it is being appealed to the Supreme Court. A decision by the Supreme Court whether it will...
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I'm a little excited today because in doing some genealogical research I came across a site that provides a portion of the Social Security number (SSN) of individuals. I am glad that not all websites have had a knee jerk reaction and simply redacted these numbers because it is essential that we have access to them in order to PREVENT identity fraud. The owners of the site, called Sysoon, took the time to put a link underneath the SSN which says, "Why we show it," and here is what they say: Identity Theft of the Deceased Identity theft is the fastest growing crime worldwide! How to Prevent Identity Theft of the Deceased? Identity theft: It can happen to anyone, living or dead. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime worldwide. Your identity does not automatically die with you. Identity thieves used the name and Social Security number of someone who is...
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I've been home from the FGS 2012 Conference in Birmingham, Alabama for a week now and am still catching up on spreading the news of all the great happenings there. Perhaps my favorite surprise was the success of the APG Roundtable, "Records Access: The Art of Advocacy," held on Tuesday, August 28th. Sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG) and organized by Diane Gravel, it was in the form of a panel moderated by Thomas MacEntee. The panel, consisting of Kelvin Meyers, Terri Flack, Alvie Davidson and Polly Kimmitt, were asked a series of questions about the current state of records access legislation. (The link at the end of this article gives more details on the panelists and questions asked). Though RPAC has traditionally been the group in which we place our confidence, the community is seeking more in terms of instruction, advice, outreach and coordination...
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