Why have a Privacy Policy on a genealogy web site?

Would you publish a family members personal information without their consent for everyone to take and use as they see fit?

Do you know who has copies of your family's personal data and what they are likely to do with that information?

Your genealogical research is unlikely to be enhanced by publishing the details of living relatives.

Some reasons not to publish an individual's personal information:

  • Sometimes a persons mothers maiden name is used as a security word.
  • Unknown to you someone may be trying to hide or distance themselves from someone or something.
  • Interesting stories about an individual might be damaging to their reputation and/or circumstances.
  • Unscrupulous people may make use of personal information in order to impersonate others or to gain advantage by using this information.
  • If something happens as a consequence of the data being out there, it will be too late to do anything about it.

Some suggestions what to do:

  • Only publish details for those individuals whom you are certain are dead or likely to be dead by now.
  • Do not publish details of dead individuals who have pre-deceased their parents.
  • Create a secondary, privatised version of your genealogy for publishing in public.
  • Only share private information from particular branches of your genealogy with others who are in those same branches.
  • Keep track of those who have copies of your genealogy and insist on their not distributing your data, outside of their family, without your prior consent.
  • Do not pass on personal information to strangers via mail. Rather forward these queries to the person in question and let them decide.

Realise that if you publish your data on some of the popular web sites, they will take ownership of your data. So be very careful about submitting your data. First read their Privacy Policy to ascertain whether you will retain full control of your data and whether you will be able to alter or even completely remove it once it has been submitted.

Facts in the data such as Names, Dates, Places and Relationships cannot be copyrighted. However, any part containing a creative element such as the Notes, is copyrightable.

Anyone with whom we share our data is asked to agree with the above.


All of the above is not authoritative and is merely our own personal opinion. No responsibility will be accepted for what you choose to make of this information.