Identity crisis: Birth records online

People-search and family history Web sites have come under fire from California lawmakers, residents and privacy advocates concerned that personal data available online can be used to aid identity theft.

Genealogical Web site RootsWeb.com removed databases of California and Texas birth records from its site Friday after receiving a blitz of phone calls from frantic state residents worried that data contained in the public records could be used for malfeasance. The data--birth records dating from 1905 to 1995 on more than 24 million Californians--included names, birth dates, places of birth and mothers' maiden names, a key ingredient to accessing customer financial information at many banks and credit card companies.

Now, a California legislator is asking Gov. Gray Davis to stop the Department of Health Services from selling California birth records in electronic format to third parties, a legal right of the state agency. In a letter sent late Friday, Sen. Jackie Speier, (D-San Francisco, San Mateo), also asked that the governor track down one other Web company, which bought the data earlier this year, and prevent it from publishing the information online.

News source: News Cnet

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