Genealogists: The New Gold Diggers?

A great conversation is kicking off over in the “Google for Gov” group, where I asked “Do you worry about privacy issues when you’re using Google?”

But it sparked a quick thought: Will genealogists be the new gold diggers?
What I mean is that genealogists could make a killing by archiving and sculpting the digital data of people like you and me for family members when we’re gone.
People with malicious intent could also capture “family secrets” and hold people hostage with little nuggets of nefarious online activity that would otherwise never see the light of day.
Uh, can you say extortion and/or defamation?
But my hunch is that it’s going to become increasingly common as we unwittingly relinquish our rights to privacy.
What do you think?
You can answer here or there.

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Avatar photo Bill Brantley

My fiance is an archivist/genealogist and I know she and her fellow professionals abide by a strict code of ethics. Now the code is voluntary and I don’t believe there is an enforcement mechanism but people in her field are constantly talking about the duty to maintain a client’s privacy. This may be small comfort but at least the archivists and genealogists are cognitive of these issues.

Now, a field that has benefited more from online information has been private investigators. Angry spouses, noisy family members, and other interested parties have been hiring PIs for years to ferret out personal information and the increasing use of online activities has made gathering that information easier and with better documentation. And its better to do it while the victim is alive and willing to pay to keep that information from the family rather than hit up the family after the person has passed on.

To quote Major Frank Burns: “I wouldn’t be so paranoid if everyone wasn’t out to get me.”

Andrew Krzmarzick

Nice…appreciate that advocacy for genealogists, Bill! I push the envelope with titles to spark conversation…and PIs are probably a better target group…or the paparazzi. 🙂

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

@Andrew – In reference to the paparazzi: once you reach a certain point like Lady Gaga, Lindsey Lohan, or Madonna, you are resistant to any further dirt about you. So maybe the best advice is to become notorious.

William H. Devereaux, III

That is a very interesting topic. Over the last couple of years I’ve researching my family geneology thru Ancestory.com. I find it very fun. But I remember a few years back hearing that Ancestory.com is owned by the Mormon Church. I also heard that they are very into geneology for many various reasons. I wonder if the or other Organizations might mis-use personal info.?

Andrew Krzmarzick

@William Information is certainly power…especially personal information and family history. To hold the keys to that kingdom is a tremendous responsibility…and I would hope that Ancestry.com is serving as good stewards!