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Sorry, due to budget cuts, we are only open to the public on the third Wednesday of every other month. You have to prove your kinship before you can obtain.

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Presentation on theme: "Sorry, due to budget cuts, we are only open to the public on the third Wednesday of every other month. You have to prove your kinship before you can obtain."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sorry, due to budget cuts, we are only open to the public on the third Wednesday of every other month. You have to prove your kinship before you can obtain your great grandfather’s records Access Denied! Only the dead can get copies of their death records So, what can we DO about this? “NYC is a closed jurisdiction and we are not public records.” Right to be forgotten 1

2 The Times They Are A-Changing! T 219 28 August 2014 San Antonio, Texas 2

3 Agenda Jan Alpert, Chair, RPAC About RPAC Three-year restriction to Social Security Death Index RPAC requesting Amendment to Sec. 203 Jan Meisels Allen, Chair, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Com. 2011 Revision Model Vital Statistics Act 2014 Examples of State Vital Records Legislation European Union Update Fred Moss, Counsel for FGS Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights Know Your Legislators: Talking Points & Sample Letter Congressional Recess: Make Your Voice Heard Q & A 3

4 About RPAC Joint Committee of FGS, NGS, and IAJGS Participating organizations: APG, ASG, BCG, and ICAPGen. Other participants: Ancestry & ProQuest State Liaisons (30 of the 50 states currently represented) 4

5 Records Preservation & Access Committee Participants Jan Alpert, Chair (SC) Josh Taylor, FGS (MA) Fred Moss, FGS (TX) David Rencher, FGS (UT) Curt Witcher, FGS (IN) Linda McCleary, FGS (AZ) Barbara Mathews, BCG (MA) Roger D. Joslyn, ASG (NY) Linda Gulbrandsen, ICAPGEN (UT) Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS (CA) Ken Ryesky, IAJGS (NY) Jordan Jones, NGS, (NC) Donn Devine, NGS (DE) Darrell Jackson, NGS (MI) Kelvin Meyers, APG (TX) Lou Szucs, Ancestry (IL) Bill Forsyth, ProQuest (UT) 5

6 RPAC Mission Advocate open access to vital records Support strong preservation policies & practices Advise community about federal, state, and sometimes local regulations and legislation Coordinate genealogical community response 6

7 How RPAC Works Monthly evening conference call—First Thursday each month Presentations in 2014 at FGS, IAJGS & NGS RPAC Blog at RPAC email list State Liaisons conference calls and mailing list 7

8 RPAC Blog 8

9 RPAC Blog 9

10 Pick Up the RPAC Brochure at the RPAC Booth # 604 10

11 How We Hear About Threats Members of RPAC committee Participating organizations in RPAC State Liaisons Genealogy Blogs 11

12 How RPAC Responds to Threats RPAC supports and assists local genealogy groups and state liaisons Monitors bills as the legislation progresses Communicates threats and bill status Prepares written statements for key committee hearings Posts sample letters to legislators Talking Points for visits with your legislators 12

13 State Liaisons—How Selected Normally by state umbrella society Looking for volunteers interested in the political process Who possibly worked in government affairs, state, or local government If interested see me after this presentation 13

14 State Liaison Responsibilities with Support from RPAC Monitor state legislative & regulatory activity Timely alert to RPAC Primary link between state genealogical community & RPAC Build a communications network across the state for a consistent response Compile state specific data on access and retention of vital records for RPAC website. 14

15 Elizabeth Wells (AL) Connie Bradbury (AK) Linda McCleary (AZ) Jan Davenport (AR) David Coward (CO) Robert Rafford (CT) Donn Devine (DE) Frank Laurent (FL) Elizabeth Olson (GA) Jeanie Lowe (IL) Curt Witcher (IN) Cynthia Hofmeister (LA) Barbara Mathews (MA) Helen Shaw (ME) Cynthia Grostick (MI) Nancy Waller Thomas (MO) 15 State Liaison Roster

16 Bernice Schroer (NV) Joan Lowry (NJ) Derek Davey (OH) Billie Fogarty (OK) Leslie Lawson (OR) James Beidler (PA) John Andrews, Jr. (SC) Carla Maitland (TN) Teri Flack (TX) Linda Gulbrandsen (UT) John Leppman (VT) Barbara Vines Little (VA) Eric Stroschein (WA) Pam Anderson (WI) State Liaisons in the room please stand 16

17 Liaisons Needed California Hawaii Idaho Iowa Kansas Kentucky Maryland Minnesota Mississippi Montana Nebraska New Hampshire New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Rhode Island South Dakota West Virginia Wyoming 17

18 National Coalition for History RPAC has recently joined NCH for 2015 Includes more than 55 historical and archival organizations and societies We share similar interests in open access to records Provides some visibility in Washington, DC 18

19 Current Threats to Vital Records Access Closure of the SSDI record for three years from person’s death. Since November 2011, the Social Security Administration is providing less data Model State Vital Statistics Act will increase the embargo periods on access to Vital Records 19

20 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act Passed both houses in December Signed by the President 26 December 2013 Death Master File/SSDI record closed for 3 years after death Must be certified by the Department of Commerce to access the DMF/SSDI during the 3 year embargo period 20

21 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act Hearing on 4 March 2014. Fred Moss, counsel for FGS testified 111 participated in person or via webcast Statements to Commerce on Interim Rule were sent in April 2014 by RPAC and others We have allies: Statements also filed by insurance companies, industry associations, banks or credit services, pensions funds, and various service providers 21

22 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act Interim rule allowed certification for forensic genealogists. A few became certified. $200 to become certified, annual fee to access data is $995, less data, inadequate search engine Audit and security requirements $1,000 fine if SSDI information disclosed to anyone uncertified Multi-user costs are $14,500 annually 22

23 RPAC Requesting Amendment to Sec. 203 Redact the SSN and make the non-sensitive information available during the three-year embargo period. Require the SSA to release all the information including middle name or initial, year and state SSN was issued, and last residence or where the last payment was sent. 23

24 Jan Meisels Allen Member, RPAC Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee President, Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (JGSCV) 24

25 Genealogists without records can’t do genealogy! We are facing crises worldwide on access to vital records Due to misunderstanding by those in power about Identity Theft and due to Budget Cuts 25

26 Working group reported revision May 2011 Restricts access to birth records for 125 years Restricts access to marriage or divorce records for 100 years Restricts access to death records for 75 years Restricts access to indices until the embargo dates Requires confidentiality restrictions on indices as well as records 26 2011 Revision Model State Vital Statistics Act

27 April 2012 Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) put Model Act “on hold” January 2013 HHS promulgates final regulation on privacy and permits medical information on deceased to be released after 50 years less than revision act of 75 years 27 2011 Revision Model State Vital Statistics Act

28 Regulations are way for state regulators to require actions that are not in state law and to “reinterpret” state laws We have already seen changes in the privacy language for Maine Vital Records proposed regulations 28 Remember to Watch For Regulations Too

29 Oregon—State Liaison, Leslie Lawson Passed with no change in embargo periods Limited access to the indices Maine—State Liaison, Helen Shaw Law changed 2010. Researcher card to provide access to genealogists 2014 pending regulations incorporate some Model Act provisions (to make the indices private) Texas—State Liaison Teri Flack Letter writing campaign by Texas genealogists made a difference. The bill died in committee. 29 Recent Vital Records Legislation

30 Oklahoma—State Liaison, Billie Fogarty Bill passed in 2012 but no one noticed Only the deceased could obtain a copy of his/her death certificate 2014 law changed to 125 year embargo birth records and 75 years death records. Connecticut—State Liaison, Robert Rafford Birth records are closed for 100 years, but members of a Connecticut genealogical society can have access. Currently public can only purchase marriage and death records and birth over 100 years but not inspect them. 30

31 Recent Vital Records Legislation Washington—State Liaison, Eric Stroschein Did not have administration support and never became a bill. Where RPAC and the genealogical community proactively worked together, there has been limited adverse change. 31

32 "We do not follow that state law. NYC is a closed jurisdiction and we are not public records. For birth and death certificates, you must show entitlement. There aren't an amount of years when our records become public yet." New York City Department of Health and Access to Birth and Death Certificates 32

33 How can you help? 33

34 Find out when your state’s legislature begins and ends. Many start in January- but the end dates vary- some go year ‘round See: s/Sessions.aspx?h=&year=2014 Identify your representatives, their contact information, and make your selves known to them 34 Things to Do Now

35 Invite your local legislators to a Society meeting Send all your legislators-federal, state, local your blog/newsletter—remember you and your society members are their constituents Stop into their local offices and get to know them and their staffs 35 What You and Your Society Can Do

36 Why Lobbying Matters 97 percent of Congressional staff say that in-person issues visits from constituents influence policymakers, with 46 percent reporting it has a lot of influence. (Source: 2011 poll by Congressional Management Foundation)Congressional Management Foundation 36

37 Tool Kit For State Liaisons See: Interview on Records Access 37

38 2013 IAJGS Letter to 28 EU Members’ Ministers of Justice Right to be remembered- re: holocaust victims Genealogy assisting researchers in tracing family medical problems that are passed on from generation to generation. Information included in birth, marriage, and death records is critical to reconstructing families and tracing genetically inherited attributes in current family members. Access to vital records—historical as well as current— is essential in making certain that one is researching the correct person. 38

39 European Union Member 28 Countries AustriaBelgiumBulgaria CroatiaCyprus Czech Republic DenmarkEstoniaFinland FranceGermanyGreece HungaryIrelandItaly LatviaLithuaniaLuxembourg MaltaNetherlandsPoland PortugalRomaniaSlovakia SloveniaSpainSweden United Kingdom 39

40 European Union Update European Union Court Decision RE: Google on “Right to Be Forgotten” 80,000 removal requests in 1 st month European Union Proposed General Data Protection Regulation — affects genealogy historical and current records from EU countries as vital records considered personal information — applies to organizations based outside the European Union if they process personal data of EU residents. The "right to be forgotten” The “right to be erased” 40

41 Recent Legislative Initiatives in Poland Polish Legislation to Change Access to Records—first law to regulate access previously by ministerial dictate. Proposes 100 years closure of birth records; 80 years closure of marriage and death records Gesher Galicia proposing 30 years death and 70-75 for marriage Shorten time periods for USC to transfer records to Polish State Archives where records are open for public. 41

42 Fred Moss, JD, LL.M. Legal Advisor for FGS Former Associate Dean & Professor, Texas Wesleyan School of Law Colonel (retired) Judge Advocate General Corps. 42

43 Proverb Things are rarely done in Washington DC for the reason publicly stated. 43

44 The Hidden Agenda? SSA wants out of the DMF business Incrementally dismantling the DMF Alternatives? 44

45 Is the SSDI/DMF issue... An Access issue? A Preservation issue? Both? 45

46 RPAC Posture The Genealogical Community would rather be Thought of as a Stakeholder & Resource, NOT A mere constituency to be placated, Or safely ignored. 46

47 Genealogists Vote 47 To order pins Access

48 Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights Stop by the RPAC Booth # 604 and sign the Declaration! 48

49 FGS-IAJGS-NGS-Sponsored The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy. 49

50 Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights Will be used to show state and federal legislators and regulators that genealogists support open records and Genealogists Vote!! 50

51 Signatures to Date: 3,500+ Online 2,522 NGS 537 Jamboree 214 IAJGS 203How many will CA/MA/OH sign at FGS? Societies 59 Total 3,535 51

52 Sign the Declaration Sign under the state tab in which you are registered to vote Encourage your friends and society members to sign electronically online 52

53 What is Needed NOW ? We need you to deliver the message to your elected representatives? Do you know who they are? Do they know you? Call on your state and federal legislators Office Visits during Congressional Recesses August and holidays We also recommend joint calls between President of State Genealogical Society and APG Chapter President 53

54 Deliver the Following Message Fraud from identity theft of the deceased was less than 2% of the total in 2011 and improving The IRS can install more filters to flag inconsistent/fraudulent tax returns Genealogy websites had already closed access to the SSDI for 2-10 years Access to the DMF is needed to prevent tax fraud, so as a result of the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act, the amount of fraud will increase 54

55 Amend Sec. 203 of the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Agreement Redact the SSN from the Death Master File for three years, and provide the non-sensitive information to data aggregators such as Ancestry and FamilySearch. Require the Social Security Administration to release all the available information including middle name or initial, year and state the SSN was issued, and last residence. 55

56 RPAC Blog Posts These slides are posted on the RPAC Blog at Talking points for your visits with your legislators Sample letter to write your legislators RPAC Brochure on Open Records Statements sent to Congressional Committees and the Department of Commerce about why genealogists need access to the SSDI 56

57 Contact RPAC Watch the RPAC Blog for Contact RPAC at We can help! We need to know early and stay informed throughout the legislative process 57

58 Questions? 58

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