I love the Internet for the world of information it offers, but dislike it for the invasion of my privacy. On one hand, I can purchase spam-blocking software to keep out unwanted junk mail; on the other, I have little control over my address appearing in online databases. I like the convenience of online ordering, but at the same time, I know my e-mail address can be sold to just about anyone. Talk about a double-edged sword!
The one area we can all control is the dissemination of personal information in online GEDCOM files. With many credit-card companies using mother’s maiden name as a security verification technique, posting that type of information online just isn’t a good idea. Although I’m an ardent advocate of uploading GEDCOMs and sharing research, I don’t agree with posting information on living individuals. You may feel differently—and if you do, I’d like to hear your point of view.
In any case, stripping potentially sensitive information from GEDCOMs is easy. Most full-featured genealogy software programs now include an option in the “make GEDCOM” feature to suppress details on living individuals. If your program doesn’t have this option, pick up a free copy of GEDClean.
For more tips about maintaining online privacy, visit these sites:
• Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail
• Understanding Privacy from the Better Business Bureau
• Tips for Online Shoppers
• More Resources About Online Privacy