Australian Law Implications on Digital Preservation

Tim Hart, Denise de Vries, Carl Mooney

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Collection institutions (Libraries, Archives, Galleries, and Museums) are responsible for storing and preserving large amounts of digital data,
which can range from historical/public figure records, to state or countrywide events. The ingest process often requires sifting through large amounts of data which may not always be sorted or categorized from the source/donor. It is possible to discover information that was not intended to be disclosed should the donor not be privy to the existence of said material. This issue is typically handled by communicating with the donor, however, if they have no relation to what has been uncovered in the data, further steps may need to be taken. If the data belong to or are about someone living, that person may need to be contacted, depending on the nature of the data discovered. If the person of interest is no longer living, legally there would no issue disclosing all information uncovered, however, implications for living relatives must be considered should the disclosed information be potentially revealing or harmful to them. This can include hereditary health issues, political or religious views,
and other sensitive information. There are significantly more variables to consider, such as public interest and defamation which can heavily impact the decision process following the discovery of sensitive data, all whilst guided, but not necessarily enforced by law. This remains somewhat of a gray area as the entities handling such data are often exempt from these laws and principles, making these decisions ethically and morally based more so than legally. In this article, the Australian laws and policies that surround privacy issues, defamation, and data relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture are explored. The aim is to raise awareness on potential issues that may arise in collection institutions as well as potential threats already sitting in storage and the laws and policies that may serve as guidelines to help overcome/mitigate such issues.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
EventiPRES 2019, 16th International Conference on Digital Preservation - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 16 Sept 201920 Sept 2019
Conference number: 16


ConferenceiPRES 2019, 16th International Conference on Digital Preservation
Abbreviated titleiPRES 2019


  • Digital Preservation
  • Australian law
  • Access
  • Privacy
  • Defamation
  • Sensitive Information
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders


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