Archivists and archival organisations

44.95 Archivists and archival organisations are responsible for the collection, maintenance and management of records that are of enduring value and for making records available for access and research. Archival arrangements for public sector records are set out in Commonwealth and state and territory legislation and, consequently, are accommodated by exceptions in the Privacy Act for activities that are required or authorised by or under law. No equivalent provisions apply to private sector archival organisations.

44.96 In a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department on the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 (Cth), the Australian Society of Archivists Inc and the Australian Council of Archives recommended an exemption for private sector archival organisations from the operation of the NPPs to facilitate research into the administrative, corporate, cultural and intellectual activity of Australia[121]—in particular, social and genealogical research.[122] In this Inquiry, one stakeholder submitted that ‘complying with the NPPs is impossible if archives are to continue to fulfil their valuable role in society and … information privacy should not last in perpetuity’.[123]

44.97 The ALRC did not receive submissions from archival organisations expressing concern about the impact of the Privacy Act on their activities.[124] The ALRC does not recommend any reform in relation to exempting or excepting archivists or archival organisations from obligations under the Act.

[121] Australian Society of Archivists Inc, Submission to the Federal Privacy Commissioner on the Draft National Privacy Principle Guidelines, 2 July 2001.

[122] The special arrangements in place under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) to allow for the use of personal information in health and medical research, and whether these arrangements should be extended to apply to research in areas such as criminology and sociology, is discussed in Chs 64, 65.

[123] Confidential, Submission PR 134, 19 January 2007.

[124] The Australian Society of Archivists, the professional association for archivists and record-keeping professionals, made a submission on DP 72 advising of the need for good records management practices for privacy to be upheld. It did not suggest there was a need for archivists to have an exemption from the Privacy Act or an exception from particular privacy principles. Australian Society of Archivists, Submission PR 460, 11 December 2007.