Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Genealogy Community Under Attack--Hearing on SSDI and Genealogy Community Response

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

I previously posted on this forum about the US House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security hearing where the genealogical community was not invited to testify. The hearing held on February 2nd video was posted to the Subcommittee's website on February 7:
http://waysandmeans.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=133.
I suggest you watch the entire video as the questions and answer session is very telling where everyone is on this issue. The most telling is the Social Security Administrator answering questions on the genealogical community starting at 28:00 minutes if you don't want to listen to the entire hearing.

The written statements of the five invited witnesses may be read at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=276835

The "Legal Genealogist" posted a summary of the hearing which may be read at: http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/ scroll down to February 3
posting.

As a result of what happened at the hearing it is obvious that the genealogical community is under attack and we are responding with: "Stop Identity Theft NOW"- identity theft is the real culprit-not genealogists. In addition, IAJGS, FGS, NGS and RPAC submitted statements for the record before the February 16 deadline for the record closure. Please see http://fgs.org/rpac for information on what the genealogical community is doing and how you can participate and check it frequently for updates!

The House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is proposing to completely shut down use of the SSDI by genealogists as well as other industries such as banking and insurance that rely upon its information. Such an attempt is short-sighted and runs counter to the original purpose of the SSDI: to actually combat fraud.

Because of the negativity given the genealogical community at the hearing the genealogical community, through the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) [a joint committee whose voting members are the Federation of Genealogical Societies, IAJGS and the National Genealogy Society with participating members: APG, BCG, ASG, Ancestry.com and ProQuest.] is responding with "Stop Identity Theft NOW". The issue is that the SSDI used appropriately is a mechanism to stop identity theft!

To learn about the House Ways and Means Committee and the Social Security Subcommittee go to:
http://waysandmeans.house.gov/Subcommittees/Subcommittee/?IssueID=4772
To learn about who is a Member of the House or Senate go to the IAJGS
website:
http://www.iajgs.org/pramc/legisites.html and scroll down to US Congress Websites.

History:
The House Ways and Means Committee Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), the commercial name of the Death Master File (DMF) on February 2nd. The genealogical community was told they were not invited to testify, unfortunately the Committee members and those invited to testify made the genealogy community the scapegoat for identity theft, by focusing on the public access to the SSDI on genealogical websites. One of the witnesses was a grieving father whose deceased child's social security number was stolen and used fraudulently for tax refunds by the identity thieves. He was very concerned that his deceased daughter's Social Security number could be seen on the Internet by anyone. The Social Security Administrator spoke on behalf of the Administration and during the question and answer period stated, genealogists do not need the SSDI, they
can get their information in other ways, and can wait as they do for the
release of US census for "75 years".

The subcommittee members indicated that this is a bi-partisan issue and both the Democrats and Republicans will be working together to address this in upcoming legislation.

Please share this information with your genealogical associates and societies.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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