Public comments for: Proposed Amendment to General Vital Statistics Provisions (Article 207 of the NYC Health Code) regarding Birth and Death Records

Comments

Comment:
I strongly oppose this provision. I believe personal information is adequately protected by the current regulation. The only result from this provision, if passed, would be to keep historical information locked away from legitimate historians and researchers.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I strongly oppose changing the current access to these records. I believe that access to records should not be restricted due to the bad behavior of a few. Instead of restricting access for law abiding people please increase the penalties against the criminals. Thanks.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I don't find any evidence from what is stated in the proposal that the problems with the current regulations are significant enough to merit a change in the periods of privacy for birth or death records in the City of New York. You cite these statistics: "During the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, the Department processed 1,030 birth record corrections and amendments for individuals born in 1940 and earlier, including 24 delayed registrations of birth and amendments for individuals aged 90 and above. During the same five year period, the Department also processed 257 death record corrections and amendments for individuals who died in 1970 and earlier." For the birth record changes, you are not telling us how many people over 100 years had their birth records corrected or amended. It is only people born between 100 and 125 years prior to the study year that would be treated differently under the new regulation. So how many corrections and amendments of already public records would have been prevented if the 125 year regulation had been in place? WE DON'T KNOW. For the death record, you should be telling us how many people who died between the years 1895 and 1920 had their death records amended, because these are the only people who would have been treated differently under the 75 year versus the 50 year regulation. Again, WE DON'T KNOW. Only having these particular statistics would be able to evaluate whether the current regulations should be changed because they are causing too many administrative problems. Therefore I am not convinced that there is any need to make a change.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I strong oppose the proposed amendment to the birth and death law. This proposed law would severely limit my ability to obtain records of my family history. NYC should keep the law as it currently is without any changes.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I believe your new proposed ruling on vital records is unfair to genealogists and denies us vital information that gives us the opportunity to learn about our ancestors. Birth records (to be discontinued) from the 1890’s to 1925 are vital to genealogical research. They give us the parents’ names, especially the mother’s maiden name which opens numerous additional avenues to research. Also, the birth record shows the child’s number in birth order. This tells us the family size and allows us to know how many more children to research. The 1900 census shows a women’s history of the number of children born and her children still alive. Without the opportunity of having access to birth records, from 1892 to 1900, our relatives born & died during those years will be lost to us. In addition, children born and survive from 1900 – 1925 will only be found on census records. These records are vague and many times do not use the child’s proper name. We will not be able to search for other records/information on these relatives. Again, a part of our family will be lost. Death records give us immense history of our ancestors and also let us know where our family members are buried. Visiting cemeteries & gravesites also gives us a wealth of information and further avenues to research. Death dates and social security numbers, as well as a person’s residence, are already available on line by the United States Federal government. THAT IS A PROBLEM with identity theft- NOT death records available at your facilities. Please reconsider your proposed ruling. I am 70 years old and researching my ancestors brings joy and gratification to me and my family. Since all my ancestors came from Europe and settled in NYC, your records are vital for my research. Through these different records, I have been able to locate and visit the gravesites of many of my great grandparents. I also have been able to discover where in Europe they originated. Please don’t take this opportunity away and consider the following: Birth records become a public record on January 31st of the year following 85 years after the date of birth, Death records become a public record on January 31st of the year following 50 years after the date of death.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I am totally opposed to this change in the law. It does nothing to protect people's privacy and only hinders what should be available to the populace. I cannot accept your reasoning for the change in this law. These are public records and should be available to people as they have been in the past.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I am an avid family historian and, although I live in Seattle, I have accessed records from the New York City Archive many times. I am concerned about the changes proposed concerning birth and death records. The increase in the time that the records are to be held will create a hardship on genealogists and historians, as well as for individuals with concerns that may involve health, identity, religious issues, and personal interest. I am particularly concerned about the restriction of individuals allowed to access records during the sequestered time. Although I could not easily confirm it by studying your website, I understand that only parent and child will be able to access a birth record. It is still rare that a parent or child will be alive in 100 years. By the new rules, a grandchild would need to wait an additional 25 years before accessing the birth record! I understand that the primary concern behind the rule changes is the risk of identity theft. Besides a few anecdotal cases, there is no evidence that identity theft due to records taken from an archive has been a problem. Meanwhile, computer hacking continues to jeopardize the personal information of millions. Please do not increase the length of time that these records are held. All living descendants should have a right to know, and to request to view these records.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
As a professionally trained historian and active genealogist, I find your proposed rule change to be mystifying. Whose interest is being protected by extending the exclusion period for birth and death dates of no longer living persons? The only practical effect of such a rule change will be to make it much harder for historians, genealogists or just simply curious members of the public to find and examine information about our ancestors. Government agencies should be trying to further research into the past, not making it harder to carry out.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
As a genealogist, I find this proposed rule extremely restrictive and I hope that you don't encact it. The idea that restricting records like this will combat identity theft has been proven wrong in states that have open access to records, like Massachusetts and California. The proposed restrictions on when birth and death records would become available for public access would create an unnecessary hindrance for myself and millions of others seeking to trace their families within New York City’s vital records.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
The Proposed Rule fails to recognize needs and standards of the genealogical community and will only make matters exceedingly MORE difficult for those most effected by the rule change. Kindly revert to the same rules as are presently practiced by the State of NY in its historical records access regulations.
Agency: DOHMH

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