Unfortunately, this is no surprise. The genealogy community has been watching the trends to stop access to public records and Congress has been pressured for some time to restrict one of the more important tools for genealogists. Sadly, if this bill passes, identity thieves will find it easier to steal money than ever before. (See my earlier article about that at http://goo.gl/z8vHFx.)
The Records Preservation and and Access Committee, a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, has been watching this issue for years. The committee reports:
The Bipartisan Budget Bill 2014 includes a revenue –generating provision that limits access to the Death Master File/Social Security Death Index. The provisions are identical to bills IAJGS and the genealogical community have been opposing in submitted statements to the US Congress for several years as there are no provisions to permit genealogists to have immediate access nor the special categories of genealogists that the genealogical community have agreed are to be given immediate access while the rest of us may wait a few years. The budget bill includes penalties for violations $1,000 per violations with a cap of $250,000 per person violator which is included in the revenue generating provisions.
You can read much more about this in the Records Preservation and and Access Committee blog at: http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2013/12/11/budget-bill-includes-the-access-limitations-for-death-master-filessdi/.