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Hiding living relatives on trees

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InspectorGreenPen Report 18 May 2011 18:34

As far as England is concerned, one of the difficulties is that we do not have any privacy laws, as such. The nearest we have is the Data Protection Act 1998, but this is more concerned with ensuring that personal data is used fairly and properly and is managed and held in a secure manner.

When it comes to the activities of personal individuals, then under Section 36 of Part IV,: -

Domestic purposes

Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual’s personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles and the provisions of Parts II and III.

So, assuming genealogy is for recreational purposes, then the Act will not apply.

Notwithstanding all that, we should all use discretion and common sense re the information regarding others we post or load up to public websites.


JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 18:45

And I'll repeat -- publishing on the internet is *not* processing for personal use:

(emphasis in original)

Guidance - Copying of Birth, Death, Marriage and Civil Partnership Certificates

2. You are authorised to reproduce the layout of the form in any format including on the web, in films and in print. This authorisation is subject to the following conditions: ...

>> That you comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998. This guidance *does not* authorise you to reproduce the contents of any certificate containing personal data about living individuals;


I suppose the question is: if someone knows a person's exact date of birth, mother's full name, etc., from personal knowledge, rather than from a birth certificate obtained, is this covered? If not, someone can just get the information from another person who got it from a birth certificate, and publish it on the internet ...

In any event, it seems to me that the "guidelines for message board use" at this site
cover the situation (emphases added):

"Please do not include an email address, postal address, phone number or **any other personal information about** yourself or **any other living person** in material that appears on the service"

Most of the posts on the Living Relatives board being in obvious violation of that, I'd say, not to mention family trees.


Staffslass Report 18 May 2011 19:00

Just thought I would make my comment.

I am glad I read this thread I have been and altered my settings after checking them, I knew I had opened up the names of the living on my tree but that was after confirmation that we were related and wasn't sure I had changed it, I hadn't but have now.

Also me and my children were on someones tree and showing we didn't want that and emailed GR they removed it for us.


InspectorGreenPen Report 18 May 2011 19:18

The DPA does not necessarily forbid the reproduction of personal data. So, as long as you comply with the terms of the Act you can reproduce whatever you like.

The GR guidelines are just that. Guidelines. If you ignore then GR can terminate your membership. However, you are unlikely to have committed any crime, at least in England.

Other laws may apply in other countries.


JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 20:06

But since we're talking about the use of this site ... and the disclosure of information about third parties who are not even users of this site and do not even know their personal information is being displayed at this site ... I just thought the site's guidelines and the non-enforcement thereof might be kinda relevant ...

I don't think offences under the Data Protection Act are called "crimes". Really.

Snide reference to my nationality duly noted, even though I had referred to nothing outside the UK.


SylviaInCanada Report 18 May 2011 20:26

However, it is interesting to note that the parent company of the site, Friends Reunited, some years ago did start revealing members real names on site and when sending pms. This was sometime about 2007, when FR was also a subscription site (it's been free since that time).

They used the names that people had used in registering ................ for women, this was often a married name because they had used current credit cards, but most women used their maiden name as board names ........ not necessarily at first as a safety factor, but because FR was set up to reunite school friends.

There was an outcry from many people, but "foreign" members, especially myself, pointed out that this was against the laws in Canada and certain other countries, and could / would lead to prosecution. I think I even threatened to hire a lawyer if they continued to reveal my name.

FR changed its policy, agreeing that names used in registration were confidential ..................... and apologised!

So the GR "company" does know and has been known to pay attention to laws and rules in other countries

after all, a large part of their income is from people in those countries

and if we were all to sue them ..................... well, it wouldn't be good advertising would it?

In my opinion, the same could apply to those whose names and details are posted on GR by people searching fro them



JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 21:44

And yet they are still revealing the full names of users of this website in the same circumstances, as I have been decrying for years -- ever since I finally realized that was waht it was doing to *me*, without ever having notified me or asking me.

There are millions of members here, most of whom are inactive, but who can still be found via tree searches and whose full real names are revealed when a message is sent to them.

(The system has now been changed so account details allow users to opt out of this by selecting "yes" to show username only on messages. This is backwards. It should be opt in to show full/real name.)

That is a whole lot more easily fixed than the people-find problem. Just stop doing it. I guess I need to start yet another thread ...