Massachusetts Governor Seeks to Cut Access to Public Domain Records

Here is a major threat to genealogists’ access to records by a well-meaning but misinformed state governor.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker

Governor Charlie Baker is seeking to dramatically restrict who has access to Massachusetts birth records, death certificates, and marriage notices under a proposal that, if adopted, would exempt many of the documents from public view for a virtual lifetime.

Copies of the documents, known as vital records, can currently be viewed or purchased by the public, with few exemptions, at local town or city halls and the state’s records registry, making Massachusetts one of the country’s most transparent states in terms of access to birth or death certificates.

Baker’s provision would reshape state law to allow only those requesting their own records to view or get copies, albeit with a few exceptions: a person’s parent or attorney, for example, or by a judicial order. The change, his office said, would better shield potentially sensitive personal information and mirror “national best practices.”

The proposal — which would need legislative approval — provided new kindling for the debate over how to best balance the public’s right to access government records with a citizen’s privacy.

You can read more in an article by Matt Stout in the Boston Globe newspaper’s web site at https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/01/30/metro/drastic-change-baker-wants-birth-death-records-secret-most-cases/. However, one must sign up and create an account to view the full article in the Boston Globe. Luckily, the account is free.

9 Comments

The only way for this Governor to be informed is a delegation needs to have an audience with the Governor, not any of his subordinates. With sources to back up what they say. Including some professors who can show that his proposed laws help identity thieves. In fact Mitt Romney should lead this. Everyone should petition him to help. He was actually the Governor of Massachusetts.

Like

Utah, it’s 100 for birth, 75 for marriage (not sure), 50 for death. Oregon same. Oklahoma it’s 20 years for death, 100 for birth, unknown for marriage. No redactions of medical information in all of these states.

Liked by 1 person

I am in tracing my family history using public records I can go back as far as in Massachusetts 12 ties to the revolutionary war including finding that George Washington is related to me five generations back. The founding father of West Boylston major Ezra Bement is my five times great grandfather. There is no way you should be able to do this to shut off access to records that are a part about history. I will help fight this every step of the way

Liked by 1 person

It will be interesting to see how many people request their death records, as his proposal requires access “to allow only those requesting their own records”.

Like

David Paul Davenport February 1, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Further proof that you don’t have to be intelligent to get elected.

Like

    That’s enough. Let’s leave out the snark. Don’t ruin the purpose of this comment section. Isn’t this supposed to be a moderated site?

    Like

This sounds like is also precludes guardians of children from getting their birth certs since it only says parents. And how about people getting death certs of parents, grandparents etc to research who has what medical conditions?

Like

Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: