Sunday, January 06, 2008

Privacy, Open Access to Records, and Politics

Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire has an interesting, thought-provoking post entitled "New Hampshire's Presidential Privacy" in which she addresses some issues that ought to be genealogists' main concern as they consider the presidential candidates: open access to records vs. the right to privacy. What she says I can't agree with more. While I can understand the thinking behind limiting access to records of living people, would someone please explain to me how restricting access to my great-grandmother's birth certificate of 1896 will somehow prevent either terrorism or identity theft?


Thomas MacEntee said...

Great post Miriam - I also read Janice's post.

I whole-heartedly agree with you and with the questions that you and Janice both pose, here is what I think our politicians are doing: they only hope to give the appearance of having done something in terms of privacy, terrorism and identity theft. There are very few politicians anymore who come from the public service tradition (right now I can only think of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) Iowa who isn't afraid to take on topics like project pork and recently evalngelical ministries with lavish spending).

Most politicians come from a "me service" background and surround themselves with "yes people" who feed their egos.

Also involved with this issue is the topic of knowledge and information as power. I see this all the time in my field of Information Technology. Nothing written down, all kept in the head of some 45-year old male who still lives in his mother's basement. But what power could possible like in my great-grandmother's birth certificate, as you mention? Just the power to enable me to find out who I really am.

Miriam Robbins said...

Good points, Thomas. Thank you for your comments!