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Next steps

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Now that we've had all the responses in, thank you again to all who contributed, what will we be doing next?  The next step is to finalise the strategy and plan for its launch (probably after the summer).  As well as doing this we also need to plan for the actions we want to implement in the first year and work these up into detailed pieces of work that we can assign to willing stakeholders and partners.  For example, creating a centralised online list of all the business collections in Scotland is one of the main outcomes we hope to acheive in the first year.

Is there anything you particularly want to see in the first year's actions.  Bearing in mind that the actions included in the strategy are general ones that we'll implement over a 5 year period, what should be prioritised and what needs to happen first?


Peter Munro 21 June 2010 at 08:14  

Data protection legislation requires businesses to destroy personal data when it is no longer required operationally. While this protects privacy, it also destroys the historical context. If such legislation had been in place for paper records 150 years, almost everything we know about social and economic history of the Victorian age would be lost to us or very obscure.

6.2 Goal 1 of the draft strategy said that misinterpretation of the Data Protection Act leads to many records of historical value being destroyed. I've no doubt this is true, so I was surprised that the strategy made no provision for a remedy. Additionally, when I rang the Information Commissioner's office for guidance on this, the person to whom I spoke was certain that personal data could not be retained beyond statutory periods unless a business could demonstrate a particular purpose for keeping historical information. I think the strategy needs to commit to working with the Information Commissioner's office, Government bodies dealing with business matters, the CBI, LECs, Chambers of Trade, to provide guidance notes, case studies and provide training to correct this misinterpretation of the Data Protection Act.

I've already heard from two businesses who destroyed data on the understanding that this was required to comply with data protection legislation, so I think the most urgent matter is to liaise with the Information Commissioner's office and correct this misinterpretation of the Data Protection Act, and then work on producing guidance notes, case studies and training, so that businesses and their staff understand what can be kept and passed to archives, and become motivated to do so.

David Powell 21 June 2010 at 23:22  

I think the strategy at this stage is more about ideas rather than actual actions. the point raised by Peter is really important and this is the kind of action that should be built into the more detailed action plan that is discussed the in the original post.

The DPA does allow for the retention of personal data for historical reasons without having to inform the individual. However, if retained it has to be carefully managed so as any use of that data doesn't have an impact on that individual and its not publicly accessible until after their death. This is difficult for businesses to do and its where relationships with archivists, training, and the ICO needs to be developed.

Archivist (Ballast Trust) 29 June 2010 at 09:49  

The development and publication of a factsheet on the Data Protection Act and its impact on the retention of records for business, including guidance on retention is one of the actions we've identified for the first year.

John Wood 6 July 2010 at 13:22  

I think David Powell is either ignoring the point that Peter Munro made, or isn't genuinely interested in ideas.

This aspect of Data Protection legislation is either insufficiently drafted, or just not known about. Last week I was told by staff that unless I had specified at the time of collecting data that the data might be archived, or passed to an archive, I could not do it now; at least, without contacting all the people concerned which would be impossible.

This concept of archival is surely an idea, and it clearly needs to have a glossary so that we all agree and understand the terms we use in relation to the legislation; even though some pretty clear actions flow from it.

One other point, is BAS going to produce a final strategy taking on board the points made, and explaining which responses haven't been included, and why ?

Archivist (Ballast Trust) 6 July 2010 at 14:15  

I don't think David ignored Peter's comment. In fact as he explains this is not something that the strategy can change but we recognise that it is important and it is an area where more guidance and awareness raising is essential. As such it will be included in the first year action plan mentioned above.

The relevant section of the act is 33 - Exemptions for research, history and statistics

I think that better awareness of the act and this section amongst archives, researchers and businesses at the point of collecting information and transferring to an archive is crucial and the guidance will work to explain this including clarification of terminology as well.

You might find this statement from TNA useful

and this from Paradigm

We are producing a final strategy and planning for its launch in the autumn. This has included all points and comments that we received during the consultation period so we will not be producing a separate document to detail responses received.

About This Blog

This blog will provide information about the development of a National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland. It will also be used to provide general updates about Business Archives in Scotland.

This blog is written by Kiara King, the Ballast Trust archivist. Updates on the Data Mapping Project are written by Cheryl Brown, project officer.


The Business Archives Strategy for Scotland was published in August, read it here. Keep an eye on the blog for more news about business archives and the strategy's implementation.

You can also contact us at any time with thoughts and contribute your comments to the blog!

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Kiara King (Ballast Trust Archivist)