Legal Affairs

Thief Arrested for Stealing His Grandfather’s Documents from from the U.S. Navy’s Archive in Washington, D.C.

Samuel L. Morison was charged this week with stealing documents from the U.S. Navy’s archive in Washington He reportedly stole three boxes of files used by his grandfather, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Samuel Eliot Morison.

Federal agents recovered some of the Navy’s stolen documents during a raid of Morison’s house in May, according to charging documents. They found others through a bookseller who had bought them from Morison, authorities said. An investigation is still underway to determine how the documents were smuggled out.

Lawsuit Alleges Unauthorized Publication of Personal Genetics Data

An Alaska man reportedly is the lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit. An online article claims the lawsuit was placed against “FamilyTee, a Texas-based DNA testing company.” I assume that is FamilyTree DNA, based in Houston. However, the newspaper article in the Ars Technica web site simply says “FamilyTee,” not FamilyTee, DNA. Maybe it is two different companies, although I doubt it. More likely it is sloppy reporting by the author of the article to not properly use the full name of the company.

In any case, the lawsuit claims that “the results of his DNA tests were made publicly available on the Internet, and his sensitive information (including his full name, personal e-mail address, and unique DNA kit number) was also disclosed to third-party ancestry company RootsWeb (a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, a company that allows users to research their lineage).”

Genealogists Initiate a Declaration of Rights

One of the major announcements at the recent conference of the National Genealogical Society was a new Declaration concerning access to public documents. Please note that it includes an opportunity for YOU to sign the Declaration.

The following was written by the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC),
a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies:

Richmond, 10 May 2014: Jordan Jones, President of the National Genealogical Society (NGS), a sponsoring member of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), announced the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights before a crowd of more than 2,500 genealogists attending the Opening Session of the NGS 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia on 7 May 2014.
The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy. The Records Preservation and Access Committee has worked with state and federal legislators as well as local public officials for more than twenty years in support of legislation and regulations that achieve a balance between access and privacy. The Declaration of Rights has been approved by the board of directors of the three sponsoring organizations: The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS).

Oklahoma SB 1448 Signed Into Law By Governor Mary Fallin

You may remember the controversy surrounding a recently-enacted law in Oklahoma that restricts access to vital records for many years. Amongst other provisions, the law requires copies of death certificates to be issued only to the person who is listed on the certificate. That’s right, for the first 75 years following a death, you can’t order a death certificate unless you are dead!

Now the state legislature had a chance to fix the problem, but failed to do so. The following was received from Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies’ Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

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