After a California state senator raised concerns recently that online birth records could make identity theft easier, RootsWeb <www.rootsweb.com> restricted access to its databases of California birth records; Texas birth, divorce and marriage records; and Maine marriage records. State Sen. Jackie Speier said she was appalled that the state had sold its database of birth records, according to the Associated Press. The index lists all California births since 1909, and includes the data and county of birth, and mother’s maiden name. Though the records are public, RootsWeb officials decided to remove the information from the Web site and discuss alternative ways to allow family history research while protecting the privacy of those listed on the site.
Around the same time, a federal judge ordered the Department of the Interior to shut down its Internet sites until the department improves its computer security. Those sites include popular genealogy resources such as Bureau of Land Management digitized land records and Civil War Soldiers and Sailors databases. US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth found that the DOI’s computer system made Indian trust funds (worth about $3 billion) vulnerable to outside hackers. Until department officials come up with a way to adequately protect the money, all DOI Web sites will remain inaccessible, with the exception of US Geological Survey sites.
From the April 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine