The letter from Dr. Monica Bharel, “Proposal ensures vital records protected and available” (Feb. 23), tells us that the world is scary because few people know that vital records are open to public inspection. She goes on to say that we have to protect ourselves from an even scarier world when those records are scanned. Her argument offers no hard facts. I’d like to bring this discussion back to facts rather than scare tactics.
1) Almost all vital records are scanned already. It’s not a new thing.
2) Public Health sells these records to the National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) which then makes all of that information available to users in national and state governments throughout the US through their product EVVE.
3) That data is sold to the Social Security Administration.
4) It’s available to all residents of Massachusetts as a free data set on Ancestry.com.
5) The Registry of Motor Vehicles sells birth information to data aggregators.
The Federal Trade Commission data shows that states with open records have slightly less consumer identity theft than those with draconian closure periods.
Dr. Bharel wishes to scare us about records that have been open for 380 years by implying that having their indexes available on the internet is a game-changer. It’s not. They are all there already and they protect us against identity theft.
Let’s keep this discussion in the real world and not the scary imaginary world.
Barbara Mathews, President, Massachusetts Genealogical Council