Family history and 
one name study 
Privacy and personal data

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I appreciate that some people may have concerns about privacy and the extent to which personal information is made available on the internet.

This page aims to describe my approach to the use and publication of data which can be considered personal, private, or public.

I aim to adopt an approach which is sensitive to the privacy of individuals, but which is also consistent with the principles of freedom of information and the wider public availability of data.


Personal data which is publicly available

Many people will be aware that in England and Wales, details of births, marriages and deaths are matters of public record which are made generally available by the government both in print and electronic form.

For example, the free internet service at www.findmypast.co.uk can be used by anyone to access the index of births, marriages and deaths and to search it in many ways. Also, on payment of a fee equivalent to 10p per entry, anyone can obtain the details of an entry giving an individualís full name, the month, year and district of registration, and the additional information which is needed to obtain a certificate of birth, marriage or death. In addition, many public libraries and record offices have microfilm copies of the index which are available for use by the public.

Since this data is already publicly available on the internet, I do not consider it necessary to obtain permission to publish it on the Glenister web site.

Similarly, details of names and addresses are made publicly available in the register of electors, which is available on paper, and electronically. In addition, most post offices and public libraries have paper copies of the register relevant to their area and these are available for use by the public.


Restrictions imposed on personal data

While I am happy to publish personal data which is already in the public domain, I do not publish such information if I believe it may disturb the privacy of the individual.

For example, although most adults' personal names and addresses are publicly available in the register of electors, I do not publish them on the web site without the consent of the subject, since this may give rise to unwanted communications. Similarly, I do not publish telephone numbers or email addresses without the consent of the subject.

I often receive enquiries asking for contact details for a long-lost family member, friend or colleague. In such cases I may forward the request to the person in question so that they may choose whether to respond, but I will not disclose their contact details to the enquirer without their prior consent.


Additional data provided by family members

When someone provides me with information about their family members, I assume that they have obtained the subjectís permission for it to be disclosed, and for it to be published on the Glenister web site, even if this includes information which is not already publicly available.

However, where an individual is subsequently found to be uncomfortable with publication of their details, I aim to adopt an approach which is sensitive to their wishes, but which is also consistent with the principles of freedom of information and the public availability of data elsewhere.

In such cases I will amend the details published on the Glenister web site to be the same as that which is publicly available in the General Register Office index of births, marriages and deaths - just the year, quarter and district - rather than the full details of year, month, day, and place.


Private data

Many people are uncertain about which data is personal and which data is private. I have aimed to make a distinction between the two, although this is not always easy.

I initially based my distinction on the simple comparison with sending of a letter by post: anything which would normally be written on the outside of the envelope I consider to be personal information which is public, while the contents of the envelope are private. So, while I consider that an individual's name and address are both examples of personal data, I would not consider them to be private.

In addition to this, I consider that a person's date of birth (and therefore their age) and place of birth or date and place of marriage, while personal, are not private data, since these are already available as matters of public record in the registration of births, marrriages, and deaths.

Private data encompasses almost all other details about an individual, such as their occupation, race, religion, political views, medical conditions, financial details, or judicial matters. However, although private, some of these details are already made available to the public from a variety of sources - for example, details of occupation are given on certificates of birth and marriage and in registration of company details, details of financial status may appear in open court in bankruptcy proceedings, and details of civil and criminal offences may appear in other open court proceedings, while further details may appear in newspaper articles.

In the event that such private information is held, the extent to which I may publish it on the Glenister web site will not be greater than the extent to which it is available from other public sources, wherever these may be found. In practice, the personal information published on the Glenister web site is significantly less than is available from other public sources.


Data Protection Act

Individuals are exempt from registration under the Data Protection Act 2018 if the only data processed are for personal, domestic and household affairs (including recreational purposes).

I believe this exemption applies to my use of the personal data which I hold in respect of family history.

None the less, I abide by the eight principles of data protection, in that data shall be

  • fairly and lawfully processed
  • processed for limited purposes
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • accurate
  • not kept longer than necessary
  • processed in accordance with the data subjectsí rights
  • secure
  • not transferred to countries outside the EEA without adequate protection
Further details of the Data Protection Act are available from the Information Commisioner's web site at www.ico.org.uk.



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This web site does not automatically capture or store personal data from visitors to the site, other than to log the userís IP address and session information such as the date, time and duration of the visit to the site and the nature of the browser used. This information is used only for administration of the site system and in the compilation of statistics used by the site owner to assess the use of the site.

Visitors to the site may choose to ask the site to store additional information to enable them to record linkages to the details of family history information on the site. This information is not used by the site owner for any other purpose. Visitors may remove the stored additional information at any time.

For visitors who register as members of the site additional information is stored which enables the site owner to assess the nature of their potential usage of the family history information on the site. Registered members may view the information stored in relation to their usage of the site at any time by using the Profile facility. The registered members contact details - which includes their email address - will *not* be passed to anybody else. The registered member's location and extracts from messages they send to the site may appear on the site in status and news items.

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Last modified 2021 Mar 01 12:00:00