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Parliamentary questions
15 May 2013
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Mitro Repo (S&D)

 Subject:  Threat to genealogical research posed by the EU's new data protection legislation

In January 2012, the Commission published a wide-ranging proposal to revise the EU’s data protection legislation (the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Directive). Altogether, more than 4 000 amendments to the data protection package were tabled in Parliament, which is indicative of the dissatisfaction felt concerning the Commission proposal. Nonetheless, the legislative procedure is being accelerated, the aim being to secure a decision on the package before the end of the current parliamentary term.

From the point of view of genealogical research, the main requirement in the General Data Protection Regulation is that of consent by the data subject for use of personal data (Article 7 and, with regard to historical research, Article 83).

From the point of view of genealogical research, the consent requirement would be wildly excessive. It is estimated that only about 10% of people supplement their personal data or indeed give notification of their consent for data to be registered for purposes of genealogical research. Therefore the consent requirement would make it necessary to delete 90% of data from genealogical registers and would permit only a fraction of data to be included in genealogies for publication.

The consent requirement would mean that genealogies could be compiled only on people who were dead, which in turn would render such projects unviable and would put an end to the publication of genealogies.

A balance should be struck between the need to protect the privacy of individuals entered in a genealogical register and the needs of those whose hobby is genealogical research. Precipitate decisions should be avoided, and the quality of legislation should not be jeopardised.

— In drafting the proposal for amendments to data protection legislation, did the Commission consider its impact on genealogical research? Is the Commission considering conducting an impact assessment on the proposed changes to establish how they would affect such research?

— How will the Commission make it possible for genealogical research and publication of genealogies to continue with regard to people who are alive as well?

— What view does the Commission take of whether the adoption of delegated legal acts concerning processing of personal data would facilitate genealogical research, inter alia for historical purposes?

Original language of question: FIOJ C 40 E, 11/02/2014
Last updated: 28 May 2013Legal notice