Legislators keep trying close access to information that has always been public, under claims of "protecting personal privacy" or "protecting against identity theft." Of course, this impacts genealogists who want to learn more about their ancestors. If my recent experience is any example, there isn't much chance of exposing anyone's personal information.
I recently was asked to submit to a background check so that I could be trusted to have access to clients' computers that contain financial information. I am about to perform some systems work on these multi-user computers. The clients insist on credit checks and background checks for everyone with access to their systems. The report looks for criminal records and also looks for anyone with debt problems who might be tempted to steal. I feel that I have nothing to hide so I readily agreed to the investigation. A few days later, I received a copy of the background "report" that was also sent to the clients.
The background check listed six different addresses for me in recent years and yet I have never lived at five of them. In fact, I have lived at the same address for nearly eleven years. The "report" listed the correct address plus five more and claimed that I had lived at all of them in the past seven years. The report listed addresses in Maine and in Florida. I left Maine forty-five years ago and have not lived there since. I have never lived in Florida. I did live in New Hampshire prior to moving to my present home, but the New Hampshire address was not listed.
The same report also listed a current spouse for me. While her name was correct, we were divorced thirteen years ago, a fact not mentioned in the report. The report lists her by her present name that she chose at the divorce, not by her married name.
Finally, in two different places in the "report," I was listed with two different dates of birth, four and a half years apart.
This was a "background check?" It wasn't even close to being accurate. I believe my new client got ripped off: the company paid a rather hefty fee for a report that turned out to contain mostly fictional information. I suggested to my client that he should ask for his money back as he didn't receive what he paid for.
If I wanted to hide my background, I couldn't ask for a better report: it hides my true past better than anything I could have dreamed up!
If someone wanted to assume my identity, I think they would have a tough time figuring out which was the "real me." And we now have legislation that "protects" this fictitious information???