Sources and the GDPR

+5 votes
Now that we are in full GDPR we might want to think about requiring/not requiring sources for the living as well.

I know that when I enter an anonymous living child to a family, sometimes I would like it to remain as such. I have the confidence to do that regardless of the number of people who tell me I need sources.

I used to comply and add a source. Those sources now, are exactly what the GDPR is trying to protect us from collecting.  If I enter a living individual and attach a source like a California Birth Index record or a Spokeo individual record I am sharing specific peronsally indentifying information. If I left it unsourced and unnamed, I am not in violation.

Is it GDPR compliant to have this information on profiles even if it they are unlisted or will the profiles of living non-members be anonymised and wiped clean of all personally identifyig data?

It is my understanding if we have decided these profiles are releasing private information, they must acutally be deleted and not retained wether they are accessible by the public or not (unlisted).

For a great flow chart this might be helpful:

For key definitions see:
in Policy and Style by Lance Martin G2G6 Pilot (113k points)
edited by Lance Martin
It would be my understanding by taking the steps to switch living profiles to unlisted because of GDPR would be an acknowlegement by Wikitree that they are in violation.  By retaining those profiles, Wikitree is then in direct violation by retaining the information.

It is my opinion we could save the living non members If we instead took the step of sending a bot to the living non member profiles to:

Erase or change birthdate to a decade.

Remove all biography information

Remove first middle and preferred names and replace with Anonymous or Living.

Remove the changes log related to each of these profiles to prevent these changes from being reversed.

Remove any DNA test identifies from showing up (GEDMATCH or Ancestry User Name, etc)


When a new user is adding a new living member, first middle and preferred names should be automatically generated, births should be only allowed as decades and no biography should be created so that the user will not be tempted to violate GDRP rules.
Why retention of personally identifying information is a problem under GDRP even if unlisted.

One of the key ideas about GDRP is I have a right to know if my personally identifying information has been shared or lost due to theft.

If someone were to hack into wikitree and download all of the unlisted WIKITREE profiles with the identifying information in them, it would be incumbent upon Wikitree to reach out and notify all of those individuals.
Wouldn't the change log be a problem too? That would show all sorts of information.
Yes that is why I suggest removing them.


Wikitree will have a problem if John Doe comes to wikitree and says...I want all of the information you have on me. Even unlisted wikitree has a  responsibility to tell that person what they have. That is why all living persons should be anonymous so that when John Doe comes, wikitree can say, we do not have your information.

2 Answers

+6 votes
Why add the living in the first place?  That's the part I don't get.  But of course you should add sources to any profile.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (209k points)
Well, genealogy is not just about the dead, but the living as well.

I know when I first started my genealogy, it was to figure out who all of these people were in photos.  I could only do that by finding living relatives who actually knew who these other people were. I have found many individuals and family members this way.

I used to do all of this work on my personal computer. Then I realized, there are other genealogists out there who are also interested. It has been my experience there is often a single genealogist in a family group that does the genalogy for many generations.  Many are not interested.  Why then am I keeping all of this research to my self rather than share it with fellow genealogists? If we can collaborate while maintaining privacy, why do we not do that?  After I identify living relatives I invite them to secret groups at Facebook. That is where we discuss any private and personally identifying information.

The science and study of genealogy does not have to violate any of the privacy defined by GDRP and can still deal with the living.
+8 votes
I stopped adding profiles for anyone who could possibly be living a while back but I believe that if there is a profile for a person and a source is available the source should be added. If you really want profiles for living persons then I think the best answer would be to have them offline on a program on your own computer and just pick up the line after they are deceased on online programs where you want to. For data safety I have started duplicating everything I have on WikiTree on a program that is totally offline and resides on my personal computer.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
Yes. Whoever develops this type of system will get the gold star. I imagine a hybrid system that uses wikitree to store non identifying fields and local drives to store identifying information for living people. It would be seemless to the web browser and user. What it would mean however is when I went to another comptuer to work, I would lose all of that specific data (which is a hassle, but what we want in the end)

As long as the data stored on the local drive is not accessible to wikitree the problem would be solved.

Wikitree would be out of the business of collecting uniquely identifying information on living individuals

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