The Secretary/Treasurer maintains a database with the currently active membership, including postal and e-mail addresses. This is used, amongst other things, for the annual dues/ballot mailings, for distribution of the journal, for announcements about the annual meeting, and for occasional mailings to the membership about news or feedback from the membership. The list is constantly being updated as membership renewals arrive. Periodically, a printed directory of members has been distributed to members. Inquiries have recently arisen concerning (1) Requests for the list for mailings not directly concerned with the society (e.g., job or software announcements), either in the form of mailing labels or electronic lists and (2) whether the list should be posted in some form on the society’s website. Concerns about protection of the members privacy rights and the administrative burden of providing such lists must be weighed against the potential benefit to members from such expanded access. The following is the current official policy about membership mailing lists of the IGES.
- The membership list is a confidential document that belongs to the members of IGES for purposes related to the field of genetic epidemiology and the working of the society. It will not be made available to outside parties except for legitimate purposes approved by the Board.
- Electronic lists, whose future usage cannot be controlled, will not be made available to outside parties. Furthermore, the effort required to provide hardcopy mailing lists (labels, etc) and concerns about possible objections by some members to such use of their information argue against making them available for direct mailings, even for legitimate purposes and even for a fee, at least at the present time. Such parties should be invited instead to post their information on the Society’s website (which could include a link to their own website). The membership’s views on uses of the mailing list might be solicited at future business meetings or via the website (see item 6).
- We have provided a member-search function on the IGES website, which allows searching for individual members contact information. However, it does not support bulk retrieval of many members contact information at one time.
- All members will be listed in any directory, printed or electronic, with full postal and e-mail addresses, phone and fax numbers. The effort of keeping track of individuals’ preferences about whether or not to be listed or what information to provide does not appear warranted by any reasonable prospects for misuse, given the other protections about access discussed elsewhere in this policy.
- An updated e-mail list of the currently active members can be prepared at any time (together with a list of postal addresses for members for whom we do not have a current e-mail address) for use by the officers of the society or the society’s committees. This list can be used to notify members of society business or alert them to more detailed information newly posted on the website.
- We will explore the possibility of using the website as a means of polling the membership on specific issues as they arise, again via some password-protected login mechanism. It may also be possible to use the website so members can correct or change their directory information, but this requires careful consideration so that the master database (needed for keeping track of membership fees and journal subscriptions) remains up to date. For the time being, the master list will continue to be maintained by the Secretary/Treasurer, who will periodically provide updated information for posting on the website.