Lately there has been a great deal of concern over a website, FamilyTreeNow which includes on their website records on living people. This information includes birth dates or birth year or age as well as addresses and possible relatives.
The data on this site has been compiled from various public records including property transfers, property tax payments, voter registrations, utility bills and others. The consensus is that one must opt out of this website in order to remove their private information from the web.
The biggest complaint seems to be that all this information is available for free. Some believe that FamilyTreeNow should be shut down for providing this information.
News flash. One of the most popular and legitimate sites used by genealogists, FamilySearch has the exact same kind of information.
The FamilySearch United States Public Records 1970-2009 allows you to search by name (and residence if you want to narrow it down.) Here's the link - https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2199956
I searched for my a man named Thomas Kircher. He passed away in August 2008, so I'm showing the screen shots below of the results of my search.
Note, I am not signed in to any account at FamilySearch. This is a totally public, free and anonymous search. You can see very clearly it lists his exact birthday. If I click on the icon under the word "View" I get the following additional information.
You can see that in addition to Thomas' exact birth date, FamilySearch has also given me three addresses for him, including dates when those addresses were collected. A phone number is also provided. And finally I'm given the names of two possible relatives. The information from FamilySearch is similar to what could be found on FamilyTreeNow, and comes from similar public records.
Thomas and the two possible relatives displayed on this record are all deceased so I'm comfortable showing these screenshots. But trust me, the kinds of information shown is available for living people as well. I have not found myself on this database, but I've seen plenty of people I know who are alive and kicking and their details are out there on FamilySearch, one of the most trusted websites used by genealogists. These public records are out there, and clicking the "Opt Out" button on FamilyTreeNow won't do much to hide your details from someone looking for you. And I haven't seen any button on FamilySearch allowing you to opt out.
ComputerWorld has an article about going further to remove your details from the interenet at http://www.computerworld.com/article/2849263/doxxing-defense-remove-your-personal-info-from-data-brokers.html. It may help, but we're in the digital age and this kind of public information is never going to disappear.
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.