HELP! Personal Info Possibly leaked!

Not sure what happened, but my personal tree (including all living relatives) was leaked to My Heritage! I never once uploaded anything, I was trying at one point to export my tree as an HTML but never once uploaded anything. On the My Heritage site it reads that the source is “In my RootsMagic tree.”

Is this part of the new Webhints?? I see at the top it says ‘Integrated with RootsMagic’ but is this information uploaded online for everyone to see???

I’m extremely concerned because from where we’re from this is extremely dangerous information that has been used in the past to extort people (and even worse).

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I am guessing you are reviewing hints provided to RM from MyHeritage through the webhints feature. Nothing is transferred between RM and MyHeritage in either direction. If you do not wish to receive webhints, go to settings> web hint settings and unclick the boxes.

Have you just started using WebHints from MyHeritage?

I think it’s extremely unlikely that any of your data has been uploaded to MyHeritage. And I mean extremely, extremely unlikely. I suspect that you are a new user of such hints and that you have seen the text “In my RootsMagic tree” on the screen. If that’s the case, that text does not mean mean that your data has been uploaded to MyHeritage.

All that is happening is that for that one person, the screen is showing you the data that your RM database has for the person on the left side of the screen and it is showing you the data that MyHeritage has for the person on the rest of the screen. That allows you to compare and contrast the data without having to switch back and forth between screens the MyHeritage data and the RM data.

It actually is the case that the screen you are seeing is coming from MyHeritage. What happens is that RM sends a message to MyHeritage with the data about the person requesting hints. The person can well be a living person. MyHeritage then tries to find hints about the person. If it does, then MyHeritage sends back to you the screen you see. The screen includes the information that RM sent in the query and also the information that is coming back from MyHeritage. That doesn’t mean anything has been uploaded.

For example, suppose you get onto and do a query for John Doe who was born in 1953 and lived in Texas and suppose your John Doe was still living. It’s entirely possible that ancestry would have something like marriage or divorce records for your John Doe and that the marriage or divorce records would have enough information to search by John’s birth date. But your query is just a query and is not uploading anything to ancestry.

MyHeritage WebHints works the same way. RM sends a query and MyHeritage responds to the query. The stuff on the left hand side of the screen is the information from RM that was in the query. Nothing was uploaded.

I disagree. The data was transmitted in the query to the MH server. The query is stored by MH for an indeterminate period. RM has previously asserted that MH has committed to expunging the queries by iirc 3 months elapsed.

Correct in a sense.

That’s why I made the analogy about doing a query manually. You can’t do a query, well, without doing a query. Doing a query sends data, whether you are typing the data into a search engine or whether RM is “typing data into a search engine”. When I type a query into ancestry, ancestry echoes my query back to the top of the screen so I can see what I searched for and the response is on the screen below that. When RM “types a query” into MyHeritage, MyHeritage echoes the query back to the left of the screen and the response is to the right of that. That all makes sense to me.

The real concern with MyHeritage is more subtle than that. Namely, it keeps a record of the query indefinitely and not just for 3 months. In particular, it has to keep a record of the query because it records whether the hint is approved, rejected, or not yet acted upon. It has to keep a record of the query to maintain the status of the hint. But keeping a record of the query does not add the data to any database that is searchable or discoverable by any other user.

I do think the MyHeritage privacy policy is a little disingenuous on this point. But after much soul searching, I decided that it’s safe enough for me to use the MyHeritage hints. There is no way to do a query without sending data and there is no way for MyHeritage to save hint status without saving hint status. And the data in the query is not added to trees or databases or anything like that. If you don’t think the process is safe enough to use, the available recourse is to turn off MyHeritage hints in RM. I think a reasonable user can easily come to the personal decision either to use the MyHeritage hints or not to use the MyHeritage hints. It’s just a risk analysis on each user’s part, based on the way the hints really work.

That seems accurate. The query data is stored somewhere and it must be accessible to some level of administration and therefore, subject to laws where the server is located or MH is registered, potentially available legally to other entities.