Public Archives and Data Protection: Between Special Expressive Purposes and the Default Safeguards?
Public archives play a critical role in retaining, collating and disseminating information in the public interest, thereby helping ensure societal memory, promoting discussion and debate about matters of public importance and sustaining a democratic and civic culture. This information includes large amounts of personal data, almost invariably used without explicit consent and sometimes of a sensitive nature.
Looking towards the new era of the Regulation, how should public archiving be conceptualized under data protection? In light of its myriad benefits, should public archiving be conceived as an instance of special expression alongside journalism, literature and allied purposes? Conversely, given data protection’s central safeguarding purpose, is there little case for significant derogations here? Or is public archiving a central instance of a type of processing which should sit midway between these two outer data protection poles?