The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy. The GDPR is of particular interest to archives in the ways in which it affects their ability to process, maintain, and disseminate personal or potentially sensitive information in historical records.
Isabel Taylor (BA, GDL, MAS, LL.M), archivist at the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg and researcher with InterPARES Trust, has written a white paper on the EU GDPR, published in Archivar, Vol. 70, No. 2., 2017. Taylor situates the GDPR in context of the EU legal landscape on data protection, relating it in particular to the Directive it replaces, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Regulation (EC) No. 45/2001 (establishing the European Data Protection Supervisor), and Directive (EU) 2016/680 (concerning data protection in the context of criminal investigations).
Recognizing the “tireless activism by archivists (including archival professional associations in Member States), think-tanks, individual analysts, and IGOs, such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance” and research partnership, InterPARES Trust, Taylor outlines the changes from the Directive it replaces, and provides an in-depth analysis of the derogations for archives in the regulation.
In her conclusion she calls for further action from the archival community to strengthen protections for archives: “It must be remembered that, compared with the previous, restrictive drafts, the final version of the General Data Protection Regulation is an improvement. However, the fact that the Member States will have to individually legislate the position of archives means that the archival sector is not yet secure. Consequently, archival associations need to encourage their governments to pass appropriate legislation before the date at which the Regulation will come into force: i. e. before the 25th of May, 2018.”