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!”
Wearemaintaininga Listof Researchers’ contact details(name,address, phonenumber, email address)onourwebsiteforthebenefitofAkehurst researchers. BeforewecanupdatetheList,weneedapprovalto publishyourcontactdetails. Please advise your Continental Contact of yourdetailsassoonas possible.Pleasealsoletus knowifyoudonotwishtohaveyour details made availabletootherAkehurstresearchers.
We havealready received a numberofreplies (including a number which have given permission to publish their email address and not their postal address), but we are still waitingformostoftheresearcherstoreply.
We wouldlike topublish a Member’sInterestDirectory in each edition of theAkehurst-erNewsletterandonour Internet website but, given the concerns notedabove, we willonlypublishthecontactdetailsofresearchersfrom whomwehavereceivedpermission.