Genealogical Gag Order

By Diane Haddad Premium

Swedish genealogists who post certain ancestral data on the Internet may be breaking the law — which could mean you’ll have less access to information on relatives in the old country.
The Swedish Data Inspection Board <>, a government entity charged with protecting individual privacy, asked the Federation of Swedish Genealogical Societies (FSGS) <> to remove details on the race and ethnic origin of the 18th- and 19th-century people in FSGS databases. The federation. which is similar to the US Federation of Genealogical Societies, has 150 member societies representing 60,000 family historians. Its Emigrant-forum database, launched Aug. 12, contains user-contributed information on more than 370 Swedish emigrants. (The data’s in Swedish, but FSGS hopes to add an English version.)

According to the Swedish news Web site The Local <>, the Data Inspection Board’s request cited the 1998 Personal Data Act, which outlaws the posting of ethnic and racial information for living people, as well as dead people whose descendants haven’t given permission for the publication. FSGS is asking the board to clarify the law.

From the April 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.