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Old 08-20-2013, 05:18 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,881 posts, read 72,458,439 times
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Greetings!

I would really appreciate the opinion of folks who have spent time in the trenches with genealogy and who are either genealogists or who have worked with professional genealogists and understand protocol in re: to listing info about relatives who are still living.

My understanding, from working with genealogists over close to 30 years, is that unless a living person expressly consents to having his/her information "out there" on a public tree or in a book, etc., that the researcher should always protect their identity, listing only "male" or "female" (with surname) and no identifying personal information.

My 83 year old mother has been breaking this rule for decades and despite my literally PLEADING with her not to give my info, or my children's info, she thinks she has the right to hand that over to anyone and everyone, including these "county histories" that she can't wait to get herself listed in.

My sisters and I were mortified when we found out she had done this back in the late 80s. We told her then - PLEASE do not do this! If she wants to have her own life history and personal identifying info floating around - her business. But leave us out. However, she has continued to violate our wishes over and over -- and now another book is going to be published. My sisters and I are all over 50, have adult children, and we are so upset -- but there is nothing we can do.

We have told her that this is NOT acceptable and to stop but she says "as long as it is the truth, then you can't stop me. It is not as though I am printing incorrect information."

We have made adjustments over the last several decades, trying to give out information that will NOT match up to our real identifying info. For example, if we are asked our "mother's maiden name" on a credit card application, we have a fake name we use, etc.

We have explained to our mother that this is a real handicap for us when it comes to identity theft. So you would think if she didn't understand anything else, she would understand that.

We know we can't stop her . . . but she says we are totally incorrect . . . there is no such "rule" or "protocol" or expectation of privacy when it comes to one's personal information being published by ANYONE in these self-published county "history" books, etc.

I say if there are rules about our health info and identity being protected by HIPAA, surely to heavens she can understand that not everyone wants all their personal identity floating around out there for anyone to access!!!

Is there not such an understanding amongst genealogists . . . that only if a living person WISHES and AGREES TO having his/her information printed somewhere, the researcher should always protect their identity?
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:30 AM
 
13,309 posts, read 13,485,704 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anifani821 View Post
We have explained to our mother that this is a real handicap for us when it comes to identity theft. So you would think if she didn't understand anything else, she would understand that.
First of all, you have the right to protect anything you want. It is why census information is not released to the public for 72 years.

But why do you believe that publishing your name or children's names and birthdays on a website somehow makes you vulnerable to identity theft? The information is not all that difficult to find.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:48 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,881 posts, read 72,458,439 times
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Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
First of all, you have the right to protect anything you want. It is why census information is not released to the public for 72 years.

But why do you believe that publishing your name or children's names and birthdays on a website somehow makes you vulnerable to identity theft? The information is not all that difficult to find.
That is simply the reason we use to explain to our mother, in a way we THOUGHT she could understand, that it is not wise to have all that info floating around on websites.

Two of the most important pieces of data that most credit cards, for instance, ask for as identifiers are - exact birth date and mother's maiden name.

We simply do not wish to have our personal information splashed all over the universe.

We had asked our mother -- and indeed, had some nasty arguments with her in re: to this subject -- and she will not comply. We thought that explaining to her that this is identifying info that could be used to hack personal accounts would be enough - but nope, it isn't. She is just narcissistic enough to feel that she owns all of us since she gave birth to us, so therefore it is "her" info to do as she pleases.

Last evening we got into it again over her publishing a written narrative (book that will placed in the history section of the local library) that includes all of our information (all sorts of details - where we went to Elementary School, what churches we have attended, our street addresses, where we have worked, etc) -- in yet another of these "county histories." My sisters and I, as well as our children, do NOT appreciate this. If folks want to find out info about us and they are willing to go to the trouble to do that - okay, we know we can't stop them. But for God's sake, don't just hand it to them.

It is a matter of simply wanting our privacy protected. And we thought that this was standard amongst genealogists - to respect someone's privacy and not release their identifying data til after death, or only if people have given their permission.

I have told her over and over for nearly 30 years that the PROFESSIONALS out there have protocols and one of them is - you don't print the info on folks who are living, unless they have expressly agreed to that. She is such a stickler for "what is right" that you would THINK this would matter to her, but it doesn't. However, I would just like to know - am I wrong? I thought this was a commonly accepted protocol?
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:20 AM
 
13,309 posts, read 13,485,704 times
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Originally Posted by anifani821 View Post
I have told her over and over for nearly 30 years that the PROFESSIONALS out there have protocols and one of them is - you don't print the info on folks who are living, unless they have expressly agreed to that. She is such a stickler for "what is right" that you would THINK this would matter to her, but it doesn't. However, I would just like to know - am I wrong? I thought this was a commonly accepted protocol?
I think you are right. In general professionals have to honor people's privacy.

However, most genealogists are not professionals, as it is largely an amateur endeavor compromising assembly of information that is public.

In the military they always say that you can create a classified document if you use only unclassified sources. People who publish articles on how to build an atomic bomb, often derive all information that is unclassified. The government reserves the right to make the document classified, even if all sources were unclassified. In a similar way your argument is that while your mother is using only public information, her assembly of that information in one place puts your family at risk.

But as your mother is age 83, she is not likely to changer her opinion at this stage of her life. So for the sake of your relationship, I would urge you to consider how much damage she can actually do with these folk histories. The "mother's maiden name" as a security question has gone from being a standard question to one of several options on most accounts. Rarely it is sufficient in and of itself to break into an account.

My mother seems obsessed with who were the alchaholics and who were the womanizers in the family. Every family has some of each. It bothers me as I no longer think it is relevant what happened half a century ago, but I can't change her behavior.
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:05 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,881 posts, read 72,458,439 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
I think you are right. In general professionals have to honor people's privacy.

However, most genealogists are not professionals, as it is largely an amateur endeavor compromising assembly of information that is public.

In the military they always say that you can create a classified document if you use only unclassified sources. People who publish articles on how to build an atomic bomb, often derive all information that is unclassified. The government reserves the right to make the document classified, even if all sources were unclassified. In a similar way your argument is that while your mother is using only public information, her assembly of that information in one place puts your family at risk.

But as your mother is age 83, she is not likely to changer her opinion at this stage of her life. So for the sake of your relationship, I would urge you to consider how much damage she can actually do with these folk histories. The "mother's maiden name" as a security question has gone from being a standard question to one of several options on most accounts. Rarely it is sufficient in and of itself to break into an account.

My mother seems obsessed with who were the alchaholics and who were the womanizers in the family. Every family has some of each. It bothers me as I no longer think it is relevant what happened half a century ago, but I can't change her behavior.
You are so right - no changing it.

Yes, we have tried to get her to understand our concerns by pointing out the indentity theft aspect, but the plain truth - which we have all relayed for nearly 30 years - we simply do not want to have these puffed up, horrid mini-bios in self-published vanity books, written by amateurs and destined to become "fact" b/c they are placed in a library's history room. Now that is the truth. I am by education and profession a writer - as is my sister. The writing in these books is awful and the crap my mother has put in about us in the past is ridiculous -- and frankly, embarrassing. We were mortified the first time she did this and tried to point out to her that no one else in that huge tome had written about LIVING RELATIVES. Sorry. Didn't matter. If I could find every one of those awful books and deface them or rip out the pages that concern me and my sisters, I would do it! That is how embarrassingly awful it is. And what is so bad . . . I have had people mention to me that they assume my sister and I had written that drivel!!! Arrrrgggghhh.

We are not talking about a pedigree tree type listing. We are talking about a long narrative that includes all sorts of things, from what clubs we have been members of to where we have worked, lived, etc. It is disgusting, way too much info, and makes us look like we are craving public attention, when we are very private people (but not our mother, who still thinks she is Homecoming Queen at 83).

Yes, amateurs abound and I do not wish them any ill - genealogy can be fascinating and a lifelong avocation. Just don't print stuff about LIVING PEOPLE unless they have given their consent! lol
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:21 AM
 
13,309 posts, read 13,485,704 times
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Originally Posted by anifani821 View Post
The writing in these books is awful and the crap my mother has put in about us in the past is ridiculous -- and frankly, embarrassing. We were mortified the first time she did this and tried to point out to her that no one else in that huge tome had written about LIVING RELATIVES.

We are not talking about a pedigree tree type listing. We are talking about a long narrative that includes all sorts of things, from what clubs we have been members of to where we have worked, lived, etc. It is disgusting, way too much info, and makes us look like we are craving public attention, when we are very private people (but not our mother, who still thinks she is Homecoming Queen at 83).
Well, I can see how that would be very difficult to deal with. It is not so much genealogy as prying.

I don't know if you saw it, but in 2009 Kim Cattrall (then age 53) took part in the TV show Who Do You Think You Are?, which dramatizes the genealogical search for celebrity's ancestors. While most shows delve into the distant past, she wanted to know what happened to her grandfather who abandoned his family 70 years earlier when her mother was at age 8 the oldest of three girls. They discovered he had bigamously married his new wife and had four new children and lived within a few hours driving distance from his old family. He had never tried to make contact with the children he had abandoned, and he had died 25 years ago, the year before his granddaughter (who he never knew) made her first film appearance.

Well, the show had basically become a wrenching reality show. In theory it was possible that her grandfather was still alive. Fortunately, the show did not interview the descendants of his new family and ask them how they felt about their father (or grandfather) leaving his daughters destitute just to start his life over.

You might want to obtain this show, and watch it with your mother. It is a good example of how events that happened 70 years ago still have profound and sad effect on a granddaughter. It's quite different than finding out that you are the product of a bad seed in the 17th century.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:26 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,657 posts, read 7,681,417 times
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Since you can't stop the flow of information from the source, have you tried to do an end run? Contact the publisher/library/place from which the information will be made public and tell them that what they are publishing/providing public access is expressly against the wishes of the subjects. I mean, this isn't a Kitty Kelley exposé. Preventing such information from reaching the public does not deny anyone salacious or pertinent and entertaining information. Unless your family is prominent, the details of your lives would not be a grievous loss to the community if they were to be suppressed.

Considering the crap one sees in scandal rags at grocery checkouts, what your mother is doing is probably not illegal unless you can prove that the information she disperses is untrue, puts your family in danger or will do you and your family irreparable damage by causing a loss of income or prestige. It is enormously disrespectful and - if it was my parent - there would be consequences. The old bat would absolutely be denied access to younger family members since she seems to have such an interest in mining information for her own pleasure in spreading around. Certainly, the flow of information to her should stop.

Quote:
My 83 year old mother has been breaking this rule for decades and despite my literally PLEADING with her not to give my info, or my children's info, she thinks she has the right to hand that over to anyone and everyone, including these "county histories" that she can't wait to get herself listed in.
Does the woman not realize that she is, at this time, framing her own reputation that will be passed down through generations? You might ask her how she believes her grandchildren and future generations will regard her actions after she is gone.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:51 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,881 posts, read 72,458,439 times
Reputation: 22652
Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
Well, I can see how that would be very difficult to deal with. It is not so much genealogy as prying.

I don't know if you saw it, but in 2009 Kim Cattrall (then age 53) took part in the TV show Who Do You Think You Are?, which dramatizes the genealogical search for celebrity's ancestors. While most shows delve into the distant past, she wanted to know what happened to her grandfather who abandoned his family 70 years earlier when her mother was at age 8 the oldest of three girls. They discovered he had bigamously married his new wife and had four new children and lived within a few hours driving distance from his old family. He had never tried to make contact with the children he had abandoned, and he had died 25 years ago, the year before his granddaughter (who he never knew) made her first film appearance.

Well, the show had basically become a wrenching reality show. In theory it was possible that her grandfather was still alive. Fortunately, the show did not interview the descendants of his new family and ask them how they felt about their father (or grandfather) leaving his daughters destitute just to start his life over.

You might want to obtain this show, and watch it with your mother. It is a good example of how events that happened 70 years ago still have profound and sad effect on a granddaughter. It's quite different than finding out that you are the product of a bad seed in the 17th century.
I have seen maybe 3 episodes (or partial episodes) of the show. I missed Kim Cattrell's! If I am thinking of the right show, I believe they did a segment on Paula Deen . . . ? And maybe Reba McIntire? Those are the episodes I saw and think they were from that program.

Well, my mother actually has a very similar situation in her family. We suspect that her great grandfather did the same thing . . . abandoned one family and then started all over with a second - but if my mother's suspicions are correct, it would have been his wife's sister who became mother to his "second family." My mom would love to be able to prove the circumstance and reveal it to the world. She would take great delight in it, regardless of how those revelations might affect others. Her motto is "not my problem if the truth upsets you."
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:59 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,657 posts, read 7,681,417 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anifani821 View Post
Yes, amateurs abound and I do not wish them any ill - genealogy can be fascinating and a lifelong avocation. Just don't print stuff about LIVING PEOPLE unless they have given their consent! lol
Your posts sound so distressed; you have my deepest sympathy Your mother sounds like a very un-loving person by her actions.

Be aware that sites like Ancestry make public directories, year books, marriage and birth records available. Newspaper Archive makes it easy to look up birth, wedding and death announcements. From that, one can easily find the information your mother feels like she has a right to disperse.

From a family researcher point of view, one can not know if the living people whose records we attach on the tree would be happy to have that information cataloged. Ancestry provides the safety net of hiding living persons, but if someone wants to create a website and attach those records for public view, they can only hope it does no harm and be willing to remove the information if requested.

In your case, it sounds like a lack of respect and boundaries on your mother's part and more of a personal issue. If you ask that she not disperse this information, she should not. Even if any person can access that information, your mother is breaking a familial trust. It may be that the only resolution will come with her death.
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:04 AM
 
13,507 posts, read 16,713,173 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anifani821 View Post
I have seen maybe 3 episodes (or partial episodes) of the show. I missed Kim Cattrell's! If I am thinking of the right show, I believe they did a segment on Paula Deen . . . ? And maybe Reba McIntire? Those are the episodes I saw and think they were from that program.

Well, my mother actually has a very similar situation in her family. We suspect that her great grandfather did the same thing . . . abandoned one family and then started all over with a second - but if my mother's suspicions are correct, it would have been his wife's sister who became mother to his "second family." My mom would love to be able to prove the circumstance and reveal it to the world. She would take great delight in it, regardless of how those revelations might affect others. Her motto is "not my problem if the truth upsets you."
Are you serious about being worried about the marital shenanigans of your great-great-grandfather?

I cannot understand how that would "affect" any descendent alive today.
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