When I was working on the first section of my book about two years ago, I noticed that there were two conflicting dynamics affecting access to birth, marriage, and death records.
First, the Internet and digitization were making vital records more easily accessible in some places- Missouri, for example. My previous posts about FamilySearch Labs shows how this process has been continuing.
Second, fear of identity theft was leading other local and state governments to restrict access to vital records. Around that time, it also seemed that the Federal government might further restrict access. For example, this article warned of sweeping new Federal regulations, a part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
As far as I can tell, those Federal plans never got any further, as I haven't seen any further discussion or reporting about it since then. If any readers have an update, let me know via a comment.
The issue of state regulations on access continues, of course. Family Tree magazine has a forum for reporting new information on the issue. Anyone have other updates on this issue?