WILL THE CHANGES TO THE SSDI INDEX AFFECT YOUR RESEARCH?
January 1, 2012
On November 11, 2011, Texas Representative Sam Johnson proposed the “Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011.” Mr. Berg and Mr. Brady of Texas, Mr. Herger, Ms. Jenkins, Mr. Marchant, Mr. Schock and Mr. Tiberi joined Mr. Johnson to introduce the following bill.
“To protect information received by the Commissioner of Social Security related to deceased individuals.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the `Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011'.
SECTION 2. PROTECTING INFORMATION RECEIVED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY RELATED TO DECEASED INDIVIDUALS. Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405) is amended--
(1) in paragraph (5) by striking `for statistical and research activities' and all that follows and inserting `for law enforcement, tax administration, and statistical and research activities conducted by Federal agencies and for statistical and research activities conducted by State agencies.'; and
(2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph: (10) Information related to a deceased individual received by the Commissioner of Social Security other than as described in paragraph (1) shall be treated for purposes of paragraph (6) in the same manner as information received as described in paragraph (1).”
A petition to remove the SSDI information sent to the five largest genealogical services hosting the Death Master File (SSDI) evidently prompted the removal. U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Illinois) sent the petition December 1.
The petition asked the sites to “remove and no longer post on your website deceased individual’s Social Security numbers.” They believe with the Death Master File available online, those without scruples gather the personal information for illegal purposes. First, GenealogyBank.com removed the numbers from their free death index sites. Second, Ancestry.com removed the entire database from the RootsWeb.com site even though it has been on line for ten years. Ancestry.com next removed from their site the numbers attached to those who died in the last ten years.
At this time, the SSDI is still available free on FamilySearch.org and by subscription—or free trial—from Ancestry.com. You can also purchase your own private copy for a mere $1800 with an annual subscription for $600.
Why did GenealogyBank.com and Ancestry.com not fight for its customers rather than caving in without at least a fight? Is it going to stop with just the removal of the numbers for those dying in the last ten years? Alternatively, in time will the companies remove the entire databases from the Internet?
I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Tell me how the removal of the Social Security numbers will affect your genealogical research. If you want to complain, write to Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) at www.fgs.org/rpac/ and www.Occupy Genealogy.com.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.