04 September 2013

URGENT Threat to records access in EU (European Union) -- Your Help is Needed!

The following information comes from Jan Meisels Allen, The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) Vice President and Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee via Jan Alpert (NGS Past President) ...
... [there are] deep concerns with the proposed EU Data Protection regulation which is scheduled for a vote in September-date unknown. The vote has postponed four times so far. If passed as currently written it will have a chilling effect on access to records that are critical to genealogists. The IAJGS Board of Directors determined this was an issue of such significance that IAJGS would write to the Ministers of Justice in each of the 28 EU countries asking them to relay our concerns to their EU Council representative. While there are many issues of concern with the proposed regulation, the IAJGS decided we should focus on two issues that while relevant and examples used are specific to Jewish Genealogy- truly affect everyone...
Here are three slides from a presentation Jan recently made at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference.


Do you have roots from one of the 28 EU countries?  If so you may not be able to see your ancestry records- birth, marriage, death, property, etc, on any internet site in the future if this regulation goes through as proposed.  Regardless of where you are or the Internet site is located - if it contains personal  records of people from any of the EU countries access will be determined by this regulation.  YOU need to get involved and let your thoughts be known to the Minister of Justice in the EU country you are researching your ancestral roots!

Check out the Records Preservation and Action Committee (RPAC) web site post European Union Proposed Data Protection Regulation for:
o       the letter sent by (IAJGS) regarding the EU Proposed Data Protection Regulations
o       links to reports published in the press about the proposed regulations
o       a protest petition “The European Parliament: Adjourn the adoption of the regulation about personal data” by the Greece, German, Polish, Norway and Italian associations of archivists whose petition now has over 50,000 signatures

In part, the petition implores ...

... Europe must not forbid data preservation, but on the contrary ensure their protection and controlled access. It must ensure citizens that sufficient technical, financial and human resources, including the presence of skilled professionals will be granted to manage data properly.
To avoid a decision with irreparable consequences, we ask the European commission to adjourn the adoption of this regulation and debate it in depth.

The consequences of the proposed EU Data Protection regulation would be far reaching and severely impact future genealogy and health research. I, as is true for many, am hesitant to write because I don't know what to say. Like many, I have ancestors from England.  In fact, I was born in England while my father served in the US Military.  The aforementioned posted IAJGS letter to the UK gives all of us a template to tailor as we see fit. Our access to records in the future is in jeopardy.  Do voice your concerns!

As with all RPAC pages established to monitor a records access situation, do check back frequently for updates.

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