A bill proposed in Ireland would keep public records public, while preventing perusers from parading around in public people's private particulars.
The bill, currently before the Seanad, stipulates that if a person complains that their privacy has been breached, it is not a defence to say the information you got about them came from a register that is open to the public.
In theory a famous person could object to researchers compiling his family tree using information from public registers.
What genealogists most fear is that the privacy bill, when enacted, will be used by cautious librarians to deny them access to records. Michael Merrigan, secretary of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, said yesterday that the bill could “create a climate of fear”, with genealogical and heraldic research impeded and publication of information frustrated through the threat of litigation. [Link]