TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2009-03 > 1236176407
From: "Darrell A. Martin" <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] Privacy / Genealogy / Internet
Date: Wed, 04 Mar 2009 08:20:07 -0600
Mike More wrote:
> The National Genealogical Society has issued Standards for Sharing
> Information With Others:
The NGS is a fine organization, doing good work for professionals
and hobbyists alike, but I am not a member. That is, in great
part, because I cannot agree on principle with the "Standards"
they have adopted. I am not going to say I will abide by
something and then just ignore it.
Their intentions are good but the results are potentially
devastating. My comments are inserted and indented. I do not
expect to change anyone's mind, but even if I am just a voice
crying in the wilderness perhaps I can get someone to *think*
about what is happening.
> Conscious of the fact that sharing information or data with others, whether
> through speech, documents or electronic media, is essential to family
> history research and that it needs continuing support and encouragement,
> responsible family historians consistently-
> * respect the restrictions on sharing information that arise from the
> rights of another as an author, originator or compiler; as a living private
> person; or as a party to a mutual agreement.
As stated, not a problem. Difficulties
arise, however, from how some people
*interpret* the "rights" of people
which exist for all "living private
persons". A significant percentage of
people think this means that *any*
information about *any* living person
is private. This has no basis in law,
custom (until the 21st Century and
then only as an unsupported claim),
or common sense WHEN REFERRING TO
DATA WHICH IS LAWFULLY IN THE PUBLIC
EYE AND MAY LAWFULLY BE REPUBLISHED.
> * observe meticulously the legal rights of copyright owners, copying or
> distributing any part of their works only with their permission, or to the
> limited extent specifically allowed under the law's "fair use" exceptions.
Although there is a tremendous
ignorance of the law of "fair use",
not to mention what may and what may
not be copyrighted, there cannot be
any reasonable argument with a
standard that just says, "Obey the
> * identify the sources for all ideas, information and data from others,
> and the form in which they were received, recognizing that the unattributed
> use of another's intellectual work is plagiarism.
See previous comment. Realize,
however, that the need to recognize
the work of others is not always
legally binding. Still, no
responsible genealogist fails to
fully disclose the path by which
information has come to him or her.
There are many reasons for that.
> * respect the authorship rights of senders of letters, electronic mail
> and data files, forwarding or disseminating them further only with the
> sender's permission.
Not just netiquette, it's the law.
> * inform people who provide information about their families as to the
> ways it may be used, observing any conditions they impose and respecting any
> reservations they may express regarding the use of particular items.
NO! This standard is nonsensical.
One problem arises when someone
provides information that is,
properly, publicly available from
some other source.
In addition, this "standard" would
allow for someone to provide me
with information -- even about
persons who later became deceased
-- with restrictions, on me, that
would last "forever" even if I
found it somewhere else later.
In practice, I do not accept
information if it is given with
restrictions. I make an occasional
exception for minor children.
> * require some evidence of consent before assuming that living people
> are agreeable to further sharing of information about themselves.
OK as written, but again, makes the
unwarranted assumption that living
people have a right to control *all*
information about themselves. They
do not have any such universal right.
> * convey personal identifying information about living people-like age,
> home address, occupation or activities-only in ways that those concerned
> have expressly agreed to.
You might think I would argue with
this "standard" for the same reasons
given above. However, with the one
exception of age, this is not
"genealogical" information at all.
In addition, publicizing someone's
home address or activities can, in
this increasingly chaotic society,
put them at risk. I have no interest
in doing that.
> * recognize that legal rights of privacy may limit the extent to which
> information from publicly available sources may be further used,
> disseminated or published.
The legal rights of privacy *may*
limit the use of *some* publicly
available sources. Where such legal
limitations exist, the law must be
followed. I refuse to be bound by
someone's assertion that such laws
are "obvious" or (as I have heard
from one non-relative about whom
I had no information at all), "If
they don't exist they should, so
> * communicate no information to others that is known to be false, or
> without making reasonable efforts to determine its truth, particularly
> information that may be derogatory.
My only quarrel about this is the
phrase "particularly information
that may be derogatory". A lie is
a lie. I learned that in Sunday
School, a very long time ago.
> * are sensitive to the hurt that revelations of criminal, immoral,
> bizarre or irresponsible behavior may bring to family members.
Being sensitive is a good thing.
The implication, however, is
that this can be used by others
to control my otherwise proper
I am not involved in my family
history to aggravate my family.
But I pay *NO* attention to the
(sometimes assumed) sensitivities
of people about negative facts
concerning *dead* ancestors. Nor
do I allow the hurt of one person
in finding out something bad
about a relative, when that
person himself or herself has
given explicit permission for it
to be made public.
In one case I had an argument
with a distant cousin that went
something like this. "You are to
take all that mean stuff about
my father off your site right
now!" My answer: "Your father
*asked* me to include it. He
said being in prison changed his
life, and he wants people to see
that. I'll send you copies of
his letters to me, which he also
said could be made public."
Response: "I don't care. He's my
father, and this affects my
privacy. Remove it IMMEDIATELY
or I'll sue." My final e-mail:
"The name of my attorney is"
[Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe].
> Mike More
|Re: [TMG] Privacy / Genealogy / Internet by "Darrell A. Martin" <>|