Some worrying trends for Genealogists

There are some worrying trends that should alert not just those who wish to trace their ancestors, but everyone.

In an age where we, the general public, are continually advise to guard our privacy there is a concerted effort by statutory authorities and aggressive internet companies to snare your data.  The popular internet site Ancestry is the just the first to feel the effect by police who want your information, particularly your DNA.

Techcrunch.dom has this to say;

DNA profiling company has narrowly avoided complying with a search warrant in Pennsylvania after a search warrant was rejected on technical grounds, a move that is likely to help law enforcement refine their efforts to obtain user information despite the company’s efforts to keep the data private.

Little is known about the demands of the search warrant, only that a court in Pennsylvania approved law enforcement to “seek access” to Utah-based’s database of more than 15 million DNA profiles.

The full text can be found here.

Of course this is just the start, other ancestry site will be targeted in future.

One has to acknowledge that this ‘seek access’ claim will be modified as the matter progresses and any number of court cases will no doubt follow.  Regardless of the outcome of any legal battle, the result will lead inevitable to the DNA testing of every new born baby, the profile to kept by some police department.

The general response by police and legislators to any objection to the collection of DNA will be ‘if you have nothing to hide where’s the problem’?  It all sounds rather familiar.

For those who pop into this site you may be assured that I have not undergone any DNA testing, well at lest not to my knowledge.

Then there is this from the New York Times back in 2007;

On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a National Security Letter (NSL) on the Internet Archive, a digital library. The letter sought personal information about one of the Archive’s users, including the individual’s name, address, and any electronic communication transactional records pertaining to the user. The NSL also included a gag order, prohibiting the Archive and its counsel from revealing the existence of the letter.

There is an activity on the internet which bears the generic term ‘open access text archive’ which is essentially the digitising all textual material like books and research papers which have, until recently been freely available on the web.  The site Internet Archive may be found here.

The object of the Internet Archive is to preserve books that have hitherto been freely available on the web but many of which have now be grabbed by Google, and other like minded profit generating companies, and can only be accessed through their ancillary sites and then only on their term and conditions.  The Internet Archives makes all book freely available and downloadable.  Authors and writers are encouraged to up load their materials to them website where it is made available to public, unrestricted and with no change involved.

This perhaps is scary stuff for governments and their interested parties as noted in the article by the NY Times.

The point of interest is the general trend that allows governments to know more and more about us while hiding behind a barrage of secrecy and protection themselves.




Surrounded as it was by the expanse of the Clyde estuary Cumbrae was perhaps the most logical place to station a revenue cutter early in the 18th century.  Although the island did not boast a particularly safe anchorage, something which was later rectified, the island was central to the activity of smuggling.  The island was however a sentinel guarded the passage into the Western heart of the Scottish mainland.

The island’s centrality eventually lead to the stationing of the Royal George revenue cutter on the island in the latter part of the 18th century where it remain until 1820 when it sailed away never to be replace.

There is no real evidence suggesting that Cumbrae was the heart of smuggling activities across the Clyde, although, given the times, those with a fishing boat may well have indulged.  Rather, as far as Samual Ford was concerned, the sudden influx of a large revenue crew worked in his favour in a rather unexpected way.

The influx of a large crew needed to sail the Royal George resulted in turn a demand for house.  The solution, which appears to have only happened only on Cumbrae, was a distribution of land to those connected with the Royal George.

When the government initiated what was called the ‘preventative service’, it effectively sold the rights to investors, most of whom were farmers simply because farmers had the finance needed for such a large investment.  The deal proved beneficial to the investors and the number of preventative cutters, later called revenue cutters, increased as did the famers, and the governments, coffers.

But the benefits did not end there.  The crew of the revenue fleet, called mariners rather than seaman, could expect to double their wages through the distribution of the proceeds from seized contraband and impounded vessels.  The result was, for the island of Cumbrae, a distribution of those proceeds across the island.

The question i have addressed in my latest posts has been the issue of initial problem, namely smuggling which you can find here.