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Privacy Issues with Online Family Trees

Privacy Issues with Online Family Trees

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by E. Randol Schoenberg

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Privacy Issues with Online Family Trees


Privacy remains a huge issue for many genealogists and their family members. Personal genealogy websites, as well as Online Collaborative Trees available at Geni, MyHeritage, Ancestry, WikiTree, WeRelate, FamilySearch and OneGreatFamily, each offer different levels of privacy protections. The lecture will discuss the varied approaches to the question of privacy, focusing especially on legal and  ethical considerations. For example, how should a genealogist respond if someone says she does not want to be on your online tree? Should minors be allowed to use online genealogy platforms? Can the right to privacy ever be reconciled with online collaborative genealogy? As genealogists increasingly utilize public, or semi-public online collaborative genealogy platforms, these questions are becoming more common. The lecture will use real-world examples to analyze the problems and proposed solutions.


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Presenter: E. Randol Schoenberg

Attorney E. Randol Schoenberg has handled numerous cases involving looted art and the recovery of property stolen by the Nazis, including the successful return of five paintings by Gustav Klimt, as featured in the 2015 film Woman in Gold. Schoenberg graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and a certificate in European Cultural Studies and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California. Mr. Schoenberg served as President of Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust from 2005 through 2015, during which time the museum constructed its award-winning new building in Pan Pacific Park.

E. Randol Schoenberg