FGS Joins Coalition Urging Changes to Technology and Privacy Laws for Records Access

March 18, 2013 – Austin, TX. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has joined the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, as well as other organizations, in an effort to ensure continued access to records for the genealogy and family history communities.

The coalition, in a letter dated March 19, 2013, is urging Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah) to take a leadership role on important issues involving technology, privacy and genealogy records access. These include:
  • updating the laws and regulations governing the use of the "Death Master File" of the Social Security Administration and its commercially available Social Security Death Index (SSDI); and
  • updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
FGS and other coalition members have called upon Hatch to take action due to his “contributions to facilitating genealogical research . . . commitment to both law enforcement and privacy, and . . . interest in promoting development of the technology sector.”

The coalition seeks changes to recent laws and policies which threaten access to records vital to the field of genealogy as well as “genealogists who work to identify military remains, who work with coroners’ offices and medical examiners, who are forensic genealogists, heir researchers, and those researching individual genetically inherited diseases.”

The list of coalition members includes:
  • American Library Association
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
  • The Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA)
  • Dick Eastman, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Liberty Coalition
  • Records Preservation and Access Committee
  • Thomas A. Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
  • SpiderOak
FGS President D. Joshua Taylor, notes “As a leader among the genealogical community, FGS is excited to engage in an important conversation to develop constructive solutions that protect individual privacy, while maintaining suitable access for millions interested in researching their family tree.”

To follow the latest developments involving these issues important to all genealogists, follow the Records Access and Preservation Committee blog at http://www.fgs.org/rpac/.

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS Forum magazine (filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit http://www.fgs.org.