House Bill Would Limit SSDI Access

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a database frequently used by genealogists to obtain information about deaths occurring in the U.S. after 1962 or so. This FamilySearch Wiki article has a more detailed description. In the past this database has been available at FamilySearch, Ancestry, and elsewhere. The Social Security Administration calls this its “Death Master File.” “SSDI” refers to the commercial product.

Representative Sam Johnston (R-TX) has introduced the “Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011, a bill that would stop Social Security from making this information public.” The quote is from his press release announcing a hearing tomorrow, February 2nd.

This bill if passed would impact the way we’ve been doing genealogy. If the bill had no apparent benefits, however, it would not have been proposed. The best overview I’ve seen is in the article “SSDI Call to Action!” at Judy Russell’s blog The Legal Genealogist. This explains the pros and cons of the bill, and tells you how to submit comments. The bill is open for the comments for two more weeks, until the 16th, even though the hearing is tomorrow.

My post here is intended only to inform our members of this issue, not to recommend whether or how to comment.

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