Online Access to Birth Records Raises Privacy Concerns
Citing the more than 24 million birth records sold by the state and posted online, state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) is looking for a way to restrict access to such information because of concerns over privacy, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Under current law, California can sell birth and death records, which are considered public documents. The genealogy Web site Rootsweb.com has posted 24.5 million California birth records and nine million death records, which could be used to access financial records and "other sensitive material" (Nissenbaum, San Jose Mercury News, 11/29). Speier convened a legislative hearing yesterday to investigate how the public and private sectors handle personal information. "If you look at state government, we're a sieve when it comes to giving access to personal information to third parties who have no reason to get it," Speier said. Speier wants the Legislature to pass a measure that would hinder the ability to obtain birth records and make birth certificates "more fraud proof" (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 11/29). However, Senate Privacy Committee member Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) said there was no evidence birth records were being used improperly. "Unless you can answer the question that crooks are going down to get the birth certificate and using that fraudulently, what's the problem?" Bowen said (San Jose Mercury News, 11/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.