Friday, February 15, 2008

Private or not so Private

Today I sent a letter to protesting their display of private information. Perhaps it is a bug but I believe I have discovered a serious flaw in their programming. Users can decide not to list information about living individuals in which case their names are simply changed to LIVING. However, I discovered that if you search for a person who is deceased and their parents are living that not only will the results show the full name and dates of the deceased but will also list the parents' names no matter whether they are living or not or whether the user chose not to display information about living people.

I have asked Ancestry (Generations Network Inc.) to immediately remove the search results until they can handle privatizing information about living people. I wonder what response I will receive.

I spent all of January evaluating methods for sharing family information. While I like some sites like MyFamily (part of, there are problems inherit with all these sites, not the least of which is they don't really keep your information private.

I do not want to put private information online, in other words, information about living people. But beyond not wanting to post information about living people online, I actually do want to share this information with family members. It is only through your checking, double-checking, correcting, and adding to my information that we will have an accurate picture of our family.

That quest has led me to develop and host my own website ( While you will find information about my other passions, biking and refereeing (soccer), the site was put online primarily to share family history. Family members can request access and they will need a logon ID and password. There is a price to enter -- sharing some of your family info. But here we can share information about our families without the worries of how a multi-million dollar company cares for or uses our sensitive data.