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