Brian G. Andersson, the Commissioner of New York City's Department of Records, is a genealogist, so he can't be happy about the current policy of the city on allowing access to birth records.
In most cities, birth certificates become accessible to the public after 75 years. But in New York, the last certificates turned over to the Municipal Archives by the Department of Health are now 97 years old, and that transfer took place more than a decade ago.Says the Mayor's spokesman Jordan Barowitz (interesting fact: 4 out of 5 men in New York are named "Jordan"), "We are attempting to strike a balance between genealogical research and individuals' privacy and security."
Birth certificates created since 1909 can be ordered from the Department of Health only by direct descendants of their subjects, and then only for a $15 fee. For some city residents eager to unearth details about their ancestors, the situation seems perverse. "I think it's absurd that there's this arbitrary cutoff point," said Jordan Ausländer, a New York genealogist. "It costs me work." [Link]
Does this mean that Mayor Bloomberg cares nothing for the privacy and security of native New Yorkers older than 97? Surely their birth certificates too should be locked away before some identity thief with too much time on his hands makes a search request at the Department of Records website, then waits four to six weeks for the birth record of some decrepit granny to arrive in his mailbox. The more brazen thief could visit the Municipal Archives in person (presenting a photo ID at the door), crank through the microfilm to find the correct record ("Is that the one? No, the initial is wrong... What was her maiden name again?"), then ask a clerk to print the certificate out. I watch enough Law & Order to know that criminals love looking at microfilm.
I urge the centenarians of New York to take to the streets and demand that Bloomberg and his ageist cronies protect all New Yorkers from