The Data Protection Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 13 September 2017. The Bill includes the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that must come into effect by May 2018, as well as related matters including a proposed ‘the right to be forgotten’ so that people can request that social media sites (to give just one example) delete their data, and more powers for the Information Commissioners Office to impose higher fines for data breaches. Of primary interest to libraries and archives are derogations (exceptions) regarding the ability of libraries and archives to make available contemporary archives, including digitally, and for freedom of expression derogations that further enable libraries to continue their existing functions. Our earlier blogpost highlighted the importance of these derogations.

RLUK responded to the DCMS call for views on data protection and sent a letter to the Minister. We welcome a response from Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital indicating that the derogations to support libraries, archives, and freedom of expression have largely been included in the Data Protection Bill introduced in the House of Lords. However there remain some issues which we would like to see more fully addressed in the Bill:

As outlined in our earlier letter and as required by the GDPR (Recital 158), libraries and archives would benefit in legal underpinning for organisations regarding ‘archiving in the public interest’. Without this, only organisations with a clear legal foundation allowing them to archive in the public interest will be able to enjoy the new exceptions (derogations). Operating only under the freedom of expression or historical research derogations, particularly for contemporary archives and materials, could be limiting for the sector – libraries and archives may not be confident in making available these works or undertaking further digitisation without a definition of archiving in the public interest. (S. 194, Part 2)

Furthermore, a definition of research that considers only historical, scientific, and statistical research (S. 18) requires clarification, to avoid unnecessarily limiting the types of research included. The breadth and depth of research undertaken in our libraries and archives, which includes universities and national libraries, could not defined as being limited to these three purposes.

RLUK will continue to consult with our members on data protection, and follow the passage of the Bill. If you would like more information please contact me.

Fiona Bradley
Deputy Executive Director, RLUK