Saturday, October 24, 2015

Digital Genealogy and Privacy Issues

For anyone in genealogy who has invited relatives to view their tree online it is likely they have run across a few relatives who were less than pleased with family information being published online. I once had a cousin actually threaten to sue me if I didn't take the tree down (referring to For genealogists who are constantly reaching out to new found relatives this can be even more prevalent, especially if the family being contacted have had identity theft problems.

This summer at the 35th Annual Conference of the International Association for Jewish Genealogical Societies in Jerusalem, Randy Schoenberg presented his lecture "Privacy Issues with Online Family Trees" in which he discusses why there is little to fear when it comes to digital genealogy. He methodically and logically breaks-down the idea of privacy rights and how they apply to genealogy just as they do in every day life. In his introduction Schoenberg states -

"The right to privacy is a relatively recent legal construction, and one that is still evolving. As genealogists, people whose goal is to learn and write about personal details of other people, we often hear complaints about invasion of privacy. So it is worth exploring the issue in some detail to understand what rights exist at present and what might evolve in the future. Since much of our work is done online, I will also address privacy issues related to online trees on various platforms."

Click here for the published version of the lecture

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