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Geoff Tani
29 August 2005, 12:59 PM
Is there a law or common practice applying to what is OK to publish in a family tree on the web?

For example, I have a large family tree that includes mostly dead people and some people that are still alive. I don't personally know any of the people in the family tree, but they are very distantly related to my family. Is it OK for me to publish the names of these people in a descendant chart to the web? The chart includes only their names. However, because they a part of a family tree, you can look at it and figure out family relationships. Is information like that considered private and unpublishable?

Is there a standard for this kind of privacy stuff? A friend of mine doing genealogy in Japan said that in Japan, there is a law that family trees can only include deceased people. I have no idea if that is true (not to mention enforceable), but I wonder if there is any similar standard in the US?

Thanks!

theKiwi
29 August 2005, 01:36 PM
I have a lot of data published online.

For my own database, generally I don't publish anything online about living people (including their names or any abbreviations of it) as long as they can be determined to be living. If all I have is a name without any dates, then it's harder to be sure, but they do end up getting published.

Since it's impossible to know how distant relatives might react to the publication of their data it just seems safest to not publish it if you are in a position to prevent that.

For a much larger database I publish for the Clan Moffat Society I also exclude all information about living people from online, and I IMMEDIATELY remove any data that does get published that people write to me and complain about.

This database is made up of submissions from hundreds of members of the Clan Moffat Society and so there have been instances where people only very distantly related to someone have supplied that person's information without dates which got online (names, spouses, kids etc names) and then the person themselves finds it and sends me an angry eMail demanding that it be removed.

Depending just how angry they are I sometimes ask them to tell me the dates so that the system will suppress their details, but otherwise I simply remove them from the database.

A good policy would be not to publish anything which you might later want to retract - once it's published it's gone and you have lost control over it as whoever else views it will do with it as they wish.

plink plink

Roger

steven willott
30 August 2005, 08:41 AM
I don't know about any standard practice or policy, but here's what I use as my "rule". I leave one generation dead and not published between anyone published and the living. So, my grandma is still alive, and the last (most recent) persons on the website I have is her grandparents. Her parents aren't on there because I want that one generation buffer. Once my last grandparent passes away and there are no more siblings remaining (no more great aunts and no more great uncles-- I know the use of those terms will start up yet another round of great vs. grand) then and only then will I add the next generation to the website. I may be giving myself some false sense of security, but I think that it is a good way to not be responsible for any such identity information to be released at my hand.

dcosten
07 September 2005, 05:54 PM
Sorry to chime in late.

I believe Steven has the solution - keeping a one generation buffer (or more).

Whatever you do, posting information about living people is probably not going to make them happy if they find out, to say the least (think about how you'd feel about it).

You could do what I do - I maintain two trees online -

One that can be read publicly - it can be crawled and indexed by Google. I have a two-generation buffer on it (two deceased generations back from a living relative). I've found that this is enough, that legitimate genealogists can find our family and contact us. The key is that this is made up of data that is easily found around the web, with or without a subscription to one of the big genealogy sites

I have a second tree that cannot be publicly read, that has information on living individuals (that have consented, or if they are distant and unreachable, information that has been found about them on the web). This is secured (both PhpGedView (http://phpgedview.net) and The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (http://lythgoes.net/genealogy/software.php) support this feature).

My one fear is, is that a relative could easily generate a GEDCOM file and upload it somewhere. Then again they could do this with a GEDCOM file that was emailed to them between persons.

idfitter
11 September 2005, 07:58 AM
A couple of good articles to read are:

http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/comstandsharing.cfm

and

http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/comstandweb.cfm

I keep living records withheld on my website.

rapaport
22 February 2006, 11:41 PM
I would never publish anything to the web that you think might be used by someone with dishonest intentions. If you want to publish website with your genealogical data on it, you should password-protect it and NEVER have a public website with a link or a URL to it. That way, it is highly unlikely, perhaps impossible, for any search engine to find it, since there will be no link TO it.

DBaddorf
23 February 2006, 06:35 PM
NEVER have a public website with a link or a URL to it. That way, it is highly unlikely, perhaps impossible, for any search engine to find it, since there will be no link TO it.

The above isn't really enough. I had one of those. I never mentioned the URL anywhere, except in email to relatives. The fact that the website was on a public server (not yahoo, but something like that- private enough that I had to pay for it) means that some search engines will find it and catalog the whole thing. They get access to the top directories at [sitename] and just work their way down.

Deb Baddorf

jbkeene
23 February 2006, 06:37 PM
I would never publish anything to the web that you think might be used by someone with dishonest intentions. If you want to publish website with your genealogical data on it, you should password-protect it and NEVER have a public website with a link or a URL to it. That way, it is highly unlikely, perhaps impossible, for any search engine to find it, since there will be no link TO it.
Doesn't this kind of defeat the purpose of a website? I personally have all my genealogy data on the web - not including living people - and, yes, some of it has been "stolen" and reposted without attribution to me. That is a definite annoyance but it is more than compensated for by the many, many people who have found my website through search engines and have written to me and then shared their data about their branch of the family. Sometimes you lose, but more often you win by posting your data - as long as you keep living people off it.
Jocelyn

Blaise A. Darveaux
03 March 2006, 11:15 AM
This is probably going to stimulate some response, but I do publish living people's names in my web site. I publish only their name and sex, but nothing else. Of all the years that the site has been up, I have had only one family contact me to have their data removed. Many, many others have told me that they enjoyed seeing their names on the web and they usually supply me with updates about their family. The whole purpose of having this descendancy on the web is so people can find themselves so that they can; 1) obtain a sense of place within the whole family tree, and 2) supply me with corrections and/or current data about their family. If I didn't include, at least, names of living people (let alone go two generations back, as some previous posters have suggested) how would these objectives be met? Some people who have contacted me do not even know their grandparent's names and the last time I checked, residents of cemeteries usually don't have access to the web to search for their names.

--Blaise

theKiwi
03 March 2006, 12:42 PM
On an earlier post here I said I didn't publish anything about Living people online - not even their name. I use TNG to put my data online and that replaces the name with "Living" and suppresses all other data.

However I'm now leaning toward the point of view that Blaise has - to publish only the name - the main reason for this is that with the names "out there" there's a good likelihood that someone who is in my database who is Googling themselves will find my site, and then hopefully supply more information.

I've commenced this process by asking members of the Clan Moffat Society whose 68,000 name database I also run online what their thoughts are. Responses so far are all affirmative, with no one saying it's a bad idea.

I need to contact everyone who has ever sent me information (within reason at least) and ask them as previously I'd used the logic of "If you tell me the names AND birthdates then nothing will appear online" so I need to alert them to the change and see how many, if any object.

But certainly I've received a lot of information from people who found themselves in my data files because I didn't have their birthdate and so they weren't living, and of course as soon as I get their birthdate their information disappears.

Roger <------ I'm allowed to change my mind :-)

langolier
03 March 2006, 07:07 PM
This is probably going to stimulate some response, but I do publish living people's names in my web site. I publish only their name and sex, but nothing else. Of all the years that the site has been up, I have had only one family contact me to have their data removed. Many, many others have told me that they enjoyed seeing their names on the web and they usually supply me with updates about their family. The whole purpose of having this descendancy on the web is so people can find themselves so that they can; 1) obtain a sense of place within the whole family tree, and 2) supply me with corrections and/or current data about their family. If I didn't include, at least, names of living people (let alone go two generations back, as some previous posters have suggested) how would these objectives be met? Some people who have contacted me do not even know their grandparent's names and the last time I checked, residents of cemeteries usually don't have access to the web to search for their names.

--Blaise

My experience mirrors that of Blaise -- and I have close to 40,000 folks on the web, not all living, of course.

jim

Derrick
05 March 2006, 09:53 AM
This is probably going to stimulate some response, but I do publish living people's names in my web site. I publish only their name and sex, but nothing else. Of all the years that the site has been up, I have had only one family contact me to have their data removed. Many, many others have told me that they enjoyed seeing their names on the web and they usually supply me with updates about their family. The whole purpose of having this descendancy on the web is so people can find themselves so that they can; 1) obtain a sense of place within the whole family tree, and 2) supply me with corrections and/or current data about their family.

--Blaise

I'll respond. Mother's maiden names and so on are often used as confidential information. Therefore, your ethical responsibility is not to what pleases your audience or your family; it must attend to possible consequences. If someone is compromised, it is your fault, even if they didn't ask you to remove it.

Your rationale is that this is how family can find you, but in my experience this is faulty logic. I have a website too, with living folks protected by a password (using TNG). Most obviously you are wrong because you can distribute regular old e-mail via living family networks to engage interest; at this point, if you do a good job presenting the site, people will be engaged. Just give them a password.

But beyond this, people get in touch who are family because they have found what they are looking for--their ancestors--and you always have more info than you post. Over the past 1.5 years since my site has been up I've had literally dozens of at times *very* distant relatives get in touch with helping information, with all the living (and more) protected.

You do not need to have living people on the site to create contacts. All you need is the name of a common ancestor who folks will be looking for: people are researching their *ancestry*. I'd really, really strongly recommend you to try this instead.

theKiwi
05 March 2006, 10:54 AM
I have received information from a number of people who found themselves on my site - distant cousins for whom all I had was their name. They were Googling themselves and found the site and decided to contribute information to someone who was obviously interested (me). Usually these people were NOT looking for the ancestors online, but rather were doing a vanity search to see what Google knew about them.

Of course I have also had contacts from very distant relatives who found me because they were Googling for our common ancestor.

I am currently conducting a survey amongst the contributors to one of my TNG sites - http://genealogy.ClanMoffat.org/. The first stage was in sending out 105 eMails to members of the Clan Moffat Society and asking them. I've had about 10 responses - all were positive on the idea of showing the names only of Living people (currently it shows "Living"), with one of those while in agreement, suggesting that I might be violating a Privacy Law, but not explaining which one.

During the next few weeks the rest of our 450 strong membership will be being asked the same question via our publication.

And at the end of the day, I believe overall security of many people's data is much better served by me controlling that everybody sees only the names, than succumbing to the other pressure which is to issue Members user IDs and passwords as once they see the other information (birth dates etc) there is no control over what they might do with it.

plink plink

Roger

Derrick
05 March 2006, 11:29 AM
And at the end of the day, I believe overall security of many people's data is much better served by me controlling that everybody sees only the names, than succumbing to the other pressure which is to issue Members user IDs and passwords as once they see the other information (birth dates etc) there is no control over what they might do with it.

plink plink

Roger

That's a valid point; one of the problems with using passwords is that if, as the cartoon says, no-one knows you're a dog on-line, then when an unknown relative gets in touch, who knows if they are actually a relative? My answer is, therefore, only give out passwords to folks you know off-line, or have substantial correspondence with on-line and who share information. And only put bare-bones genealogical info. about the living on-line anyway behind the password. Yes--the nature of putting family data out there site in any form, I guess, opens a risk.

I don't know of any laws about this, and peer pressure is always a stupid way to make a decision; I don't care about any of that, but about the responsibility I have assumed by having collected this data, understanding the problems with electronic identities, and simply doing the right thing (so no boneheaded laws end up being made). If you know anyone who has had identity stolen, you'd do everything you possibly could to prevent it from happening to others. It is an unbelievably annoying problem. I know that there are different solutions to this; I'm ultimately advocating for being very safe to minimize the risk.

Geri Jaron Schlenoff
24 March 2006, 12:33 PM
My first time with the ReunionTalk. My question is I want to publish my family tree on line at Family Tree Maker (that's where my family website it). I want to download from Reunion8 a gedcom but I would like to eliminate the date of birth for all living descendants but keep the birth and death dates for those all dead. I can't figure out how to do that or if it is possible. Can anyone suggest how I might do that? Thank you, Geri

Michael
24 March 2006, 02:35 PM
My first time with the ReunionTalk. My question is I want to publish my family tree on line at Family Tree Maker (that's where my family website it). I want to download from Reunion8 a gedcom but I would like to eliminate the date of birth for all living descendants but keep the birth and death dates for those all dead. I can't figure out how to do that or if it is possible. Can anyone suggest how I might do that?Hi Geri,
Welcome! Try using Reunion's Privacy Filter. To do this, choose Options -> Reports in the top Reunion menu bar. You can configure your privacy settings under the "Privacy Filter" option. There are a few options here, so you may want to experiment to see what works best for you. For more details, click on the question mark icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the Report Options window.

Once you've configured your privacy settings, be sure to put a checkmark in the "Use Privacy Filtering" checkbox on the Gedcom Export window (File -> Import/Export -> Export Gedcom) before exporting your Gedcom file.

Jerry Nutter
20 August 2008, 10:26 AM
I've discovered a loophole that could be easily exploited by fraudsters, and since I don't wish to reveal it, I'll be purposefully vague: In the very-common scenario where the husband of a married couple dies first, the surviving spouse is vulnerable, so I would not reveal her name while she's still alive. It might even be a good idea to make the husband private until both are dead?

fmlyhntr
24 August 2008, 10:47 AM
I try very hard to not publish anyone who I don't know is deceased. I don't even put them up under "living"--but that is a personal grudge against having a bunch of people called "living" pop up when I'm doing a search. If I'm sending information to someone, I will include that information if I've corresponded with them a couple of times. I actually open the GEDCOM file and analyze it before making a new one and posting it. I also try to not post deceased siblings until all have passed on.

Christina

geraldMartinDavenport
17 September 2008, 06:54 PM
Unsure of what information is critical that is posted that I need to worry about?

I do not have addresses, emails (other than mine), locations, phone numbers, or anything redeeming.

Just names and dates. I want people to search and view to see if they are related.

This has happened many times and people I knew of but never had their information, and a few others that were related but not on my list.

peace

Mary Arthur
18 September 2008, 09:13 PM
Unsure of what information is critical that is posted that I need to worry about?

I do not have addresses, emails (other than mine), locations, phone numbers, or anything redeeming.

Just names and dates. I want people to search and view to see if they are related.

This has happened many times and people I knew of but never had their information, and a few others that were related but not on my list.

peace

I never would publish information on any living person. Mother's maiden name is still used far to often as a security check.

I know my grandparents names, and believe it unlikely that anyone looking at your website would not, therefore, they could figure out that you are related to them, or are likely to have relative info.

AE Palmer
18 September 2008, 10:28 PM
Unsure of what information is critical that is posted that I need to worry about?

I do not have addresses, emails (other than mine), locations, phone numbers, or anything redeeming.

Just names and dates. I want people to search and view to see if they are related.

This has happened many times and people I knew of but never had their information, and a few others that were related but not on my list.

peace

The standard routine is to include names, dates and places for all except living people. Reunion allows for a number of variations on privacy filtration. One such option is to show only the name of living people. This fills in the chart, but leaves all vital data inaccessible as it is just plain not included when the cards are generated.