Privacy and Availability of Addresses
For a number of years we have been watching developments in the area of data privacy (e.g. UK’s 1994
Act, and a similar one in NZ in 1996). These Acts make it illegal to publish private details without informed consent. For better or for worse, this has been taken to include data of value to us genealogists - such as names, addresses, ages, and relationships for living persons. The July 1999 edition of the Journal of One-Name Studies has an excellent article on “Data protection, the new law and one-names” by Iain Kerr and is based on advice from the Data Protection Agency and relates to the (UK) Data Protection Act 1998. One of the conditions for storing data is that it should be carried on with the consent of the data subject.
Consent is not defined in the Act, but the definition in EU Directive 95/46/EC may help. It defines “the data subject’s consent” as: “any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes by which the data subject signifies his agreement to personal data relating to him being processed.” The fact that the data subject must “signify” their agreement means that there must be some active communication between the parties. Data controllers cannot infer consent from non-response to a communication, for example from a customer’s failure to return or respond to a letter or request to confirm data. The processing of “sensitive data” requires the “explicit consent” of the data subject. Paraphrasing the Journal Editor’s comments: “The provisions of the new Data Protection Act ... fill me with alarm and apprehension for genealogy. On the one hand, certain clauses seem to suggest that any personal records at all about living people, whether on computer or on paper, could be subject to the Act. ... Personally, I have never believed the original Data Protection Act was ever intended to apply to family historians at all, but became a typical piece of catch-all legislation. But, then, I wouldn’t like to be a test case!”
Researchers’ Contact Details
We are maintaining a List of Researchers’ contact details (name, address, phone number, email address) on our website for the benefit of Akehurst researchers. Before we can update the List, we need approval to publish your contact details. Please advise your Continental Contact of your details as soon as possible. Please also let us know if you do not wish to have your details made available to other Akehurst researchers.
We have already received a number of replies (including a number which have given permission to publish their email address and not their postal address), but we are still waiting for most of the researchers to reply.
We would like to publish a Member’s Interest Directory in each edition of the Akehurst-er Newsletter and on our Internet website but, given the concerns noted above, we will only publish the contact details of researchers from whom we have received permission.