Gigatrees Blog

How to Add Privacy Flags

How to Add Privacy Flags

When publishing family trees, privacy is an important consideration. Information about living persons and source material that might still be under copyright are two examples of sensitive information that should not be published online. The most common method for keeping this information private is to use a genealogy application to strip private data before building a family tree. This is generally overkill and may hide more data than is necessary. It also might not capture all private data when doing so. A more secure method is to use privatization flags that indicate exactly which records and fields should be privatized.

Gigatrees supports several methods for adding privatization flags to your database. The flags take effect when either the Security HideLiving or Security Privatize options have been enabled. The first method uses a generic set of GEDCOM tags that can be added as a record field, but in most cases require you to be able to add these to their GEDCOM file directly. This is great for Family Historian users, but users of other applications may not be able to add these. The second method is to use the Append Records option in the configuration file to append privacy flags to logical records. This method does not modify the users' file, however it only works on logical records, and cannot be used the add privacy flags to logical record fields. The third method allows privacy flags to be added to any record or field, by embedding the flag into record data. This method is supported by virtually all genealogy editors, but requires you to add Gigatrees specific text to their database, which might not be recognized and/or stripped by other applications. You will need to decide which method works best for them.

Gigatrees supports four different flags (and their vendor specific alternates): _LIVE, _SHOW, _HIDE and _PRIV..

The first of these, _LIVE allows you to add a living flag to living person in your database

0 @I1@ INDI
1 _LIVE true

As shown in the example, privacy flags must be added as subfields to the records where they apply. In this case, the living flag is applied to the individual's logical record. When a person is flagged as living, Gigatrees will change their name to HIDDEN _____ and all claims and source references associated with that person are deleted, with the exception of their parental links. This ensures your tree will retain the placeholders for living persons, while keeping their data private. If you have configured Gigatrees to estimate birthdates, adding living flags will generally not be necessary. When missing birthdates have been estimated, Gigatrees is very effective in determining whether or not a person is living based on the vital statistics of their family members. In those rare instances when Gigatrees cannot calculate a birth date, having manually entered a living flag will ensure that the individual is privatized.

Vendor Specific Alternates: LVG, LVNG, _FLGS.__LIVING, ATTR Living, _LIVING Y.

If, on the other hand, you explicitly want to show details for a living person, such as yourself, you must force them to be displayed. To do this, simply add a _SHOW flag to those individuals

0 @I1@ INDI
1 _SHOW true

This will result in the living flag and any calculated living states to be ignored so that the flagged person's details are included in the tree. It is likely that you will only want to do this for a very few persons.

It is also likely that when you force a living person's details to be shown, there will be some details that should still be kept private, their birth date comes to mind. To do this you must add a private flag.

0 @I1@ INDI
1 _LIVE true
1 BIRT
2 DATE 1 JAN 2000
2 PLAC Chicago, IL
2 _PRIV Sensitive

All private records and their fields are completely stripped when generating a tree. In the case of this example, the entire birth record is omitted. Private flags can be added to any record or field, so, for instance, in the next example, only the date is stripped, not the location.

0 @I1@ INDI
1 BIRT
2 DATE 1 JAN 2000
3 _PRIV Sensitive
2 PLAC Chicago, IL

The privacy flag can be used to hide other types of data as well such as copyrighted material.

0 @S1@ SOUR
1 TITL Title Goes Here
1 TEXT Copyrighted text goes here
2 _PRIV Copyrighted

The privatization qualifiers, "true", "Sensitive" and "Copyrighted" are ignored by Gigatrees.

Vendor Specific Alternates: _FLGS.__PRIVATE, _CONF_FLAG.

Lastly, Gigatrees supports a hidden flag that can be placed, like the private flag, in any record or field to hide it under all circumstances, even if the Security.Privatize option is not enabled. This is useful if you have todo lists, research notes, or private claims that you never want displayed anywhere.

0 @I1@ INDI
1 SSN 123-456-7890
2 _HIDE true

Vendor Specific Alternates: _EXCLUDE

Gigatrees supports configuring privacy flags using the Append Records option for those users whose genealogy applications do not allow for adding GEDCOM extensions. Configuring privacy flags only works on logical records directly. It does not work on subfields. To support this, Gigatrees allows embedding the _PRIV. and _HIDE. flags as or {gigatrees:hide} in the data text associated with the field. For instance, the flag could be added to a NOTE record or a custom EVEN record. When an embedded flag is found, it is stripped from the data text so that it does not appear in your family tree.

Ancestry.com trees do not allow for adding GEDCOM extensions, so it is useful here to describe how embedded privacy flags can be used with an Ancestry.com tree for individual events. The easiest way to add the privacy flag to a fact or event is to put it in the Description field. The will be exported as

1 BIRT 

Since the flag appears as a field of the Individual record and not of the Birth subfield, and since there is no reason to add a privacy flag to the individual (a living flag is better served for individuals) an exception has been added for Ancestry.com trees, to hide the Birth record instead.

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