14 November 2004

identity theft, 9/11, and genealogists' call for action

the u.s. house of representatives is wanting a version of its H.R. 10, 9/11 recommendations implementation act folded into the senate's version of similarly proposed legislation.

some background about what the act is and what it has to do with genealogy: it is a restructuring of the us intelligence system, and sections of it specifically designed to thwart identity theft should continue to be of immediate concern to genealogists. that is the also the stated position of the federation of genealogical societies and the national genealogical society who together, in october, issued a formal call for action and published a sample letter for genealogists to send to their congressional representatives. the letter suggested a need for an amendment to some of the wording of the H.R. 10, 9/11 recommendations act. the pertinent section of that sample letter asked to have the following added to an existent paragraph in Section 3063(d)(2) [H.R. 10] :

“However, nothing in this Chapter 2 shall be construed to require a State to change its law with respect to public access to (A) non-certified copies of birth certificates, or to (B) birth certificates or birth records once a period of 100 years has elapsed from the date of creation of the certificate or record.”

(here's a link to thomas [legislative information on the internet at the library of congress - named for thomas jefferson] so you can search for h.r. 10 and then the pertinent section [3063] which concerns vital records access.
on 28 oct, walter pincus of the washington post ran an article here (free access after free registration) the gist of which is summed up in its title and tag lines, "hope fades for intelligence bill compromise soon"...sense of urgency disappears as budget powers of new director continue to be sticking point.

that a similar act is likely to pass the senate is almost a given. as pincus says, "Commission leaders and victims' families favor the Senate bill over the House version, which contains a number of controversial intelligence issues as well as changes to immigration laws."

however the restructuring of the intelligence system shakes down, genealogists need to be vigilant and to follow all versions of the legislation carefully, looking to see that public access to historical records not be curtailed. it seems pretty self-evident that if that happens, we might as well all hang up our keyboards.

there are two versions of bill number h.r.10 for the 108th Congress searchable and readable via the library of congress (thomas) [search links on the thomas site expire and must be searched on an individual basis]:
1 . 9/11 recommendations implementation act (introduced in House) - H.R.10.IH
2 . 9/11 recommendations implementation act (reported in House) - H.R.10.RH

current status in the house of representatives (from thomas, library of congress):

H.R.10 : To provide for reform of the intelligence community, terrorism prevention and prosecution, border security, and international cooperation and coordination, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Hastert, J. Dennis [IL-14] (introduced 9/24/2004) Cosponsors (26)
Committees: House Intelligence (Permanent Select); House Armed Services; House Education and the Workforce; House Energy and Commerce; House Financial Services; House Government Reform; House International Relations; House Judiciary; House Rules; House Science; House Transportation and Infrastructure; House Ways and Means; House Homeland Security (Select)
House Reports: 108-724 Part 1, 108-724 Part 2, 108-724 Part 3, 108-724 Part 4, 108-724 Part 5
Latest Major Action: 10/8/2004 Passed/agreed to in House. Status: On passage Passed by recorded vote: 282 - 134 (Roll no. 523).
Note: Per H.Res. 827, the House shall be considered to have inserted H.R. 10 - as passed House - in S. 2845, insisted on its amendment to S. 2845, and requested a conference with the Senate. For further action, see S. 2845. The texts of H.R. 10 / S. 2845 as passed House and as passed Senate are not yet available from the Government Printing Office.

current status of the u.s. senate version (also from thomas, library of congress):
Title: A bill to reform the intelligence community and the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Collins, Susan M. [ME] (introduced 9/23/2004) Cosponsors (10)
Related Bills: H.RES.827, H.R.10, H.R.5150, S.2840
Latest Major Action: 10/16/2004 Resolving differences / Conference -- Senate actions. Status: Senate disagreed to House amendment, agreed to request for conference, and appointed conferees. Collins; Lott; DeWine; Roberts; Voinovich; Sununu; Coleman; Lieberman; Levin; Durbin; Rockefeller; Graham FL; Lautenberg. pursuant to the orders of October 10 and 11, 2004.
Note: House conferees appointed: Hoekstra, Dreier, Hyde, Hunter, Sensenbrenner, Harman, Menendez, Skelton. The Government Printing Office has published the text of S. 2845 as passed Senate (the PP - "Public Print" version) and as passed House (the EAH - "Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by House" version). See "Text of Legislation" below.

i'll be watching any and all legislation of a similar nature closely and drafting letters to my senators and house representative stating my concerns in a tone similar to that of the sample letter in the call to action. i know from experience that hand-written letters by postal mail are more likely to get real attention, but i know, too, that email or web form mail doesn't hurt either.

the u.s. house of representatives has a write to your representative form here which also includes links to easily determine exactly your representative is. the clerk of the house keeps addresses and phone numbers of all the house members and committees. individuals may call may also call the u.s. house switchboard at (202)225-312. house member websites can be visited directly for further information.

a handful of senators still accept e-mail but others use a web form. contact information, phone numbers, and links to senators' websites are on a page located here. the most recent phone number listing for senators is a pdf document located here.


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