The next big talking point amongst family historians, and which may well see divided opinions, is the Ministry of Justice consultation paper on the Government’s six options for the proposed changes to the edited Electoral Register for England and Wales.
A PDF of the consultation paper can be down loaded through the following link to the Ministry of Justice Website.
The edited register, sold by local authorities to various organizations and commercial companies, is used by genealogists largely engaged in tracing living people. This can include professionals and those heir hunters engaged in probate/intestacy and legal cases as well as hobbyists looking for cousins and one-name studies. Access to the register by genealogists is usually through commercial directory companies such as 192.com (and hence Findmypast) who make the edited register available online.
The Society would be interested in hearing opinions from members before drafting the SoG response in time for the February deadline. Anyone wishing to comment can contact the Genealogist direct on firstname.lastname@example.org or use the comments facility below.
The issues will again revolve round the balance drawn between the right of the individual to privacy against the use of publicly available data by family historians.
The paper sets out 6 policy options for consideration and comment as listed below and gives relatively full arguments for and against each. Details can be found in the paper.
Options abolishing the Edited Register
Option 1: Abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable.
Option 2: Set a timescale or ‘trigger point’ for abolition of the Edited Register.
Option 3: Abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable, but extend access to the Full Register for other purposes to be decided in light of the consultation.
Options retaining the Edited Register
Option 4: Retain the Edited Register, but impose restrictions in legislation on who can purchase it and for what purposes.
Option 5: Replace the current ‘opt out’ provision with an ‘opt in’.
Option 6: Improve guidance for the public about the Edited Register.
Else Churchill, Genealogist
Society of Genealogists