Retention in “the right to be forgotten” scenario: a records management examination

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-11-2015-0038
Date21 November 2016
Publication Date21 November 2016
Pages279-292
AuthorSherry Li Xie
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance
Retention in “the right to be
forgotten” scenario: a records
management examination
Sherry Li Xie
School of Information Resource Management,
Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
Abstract
Purpose – This paper, through examining the judgment on Case C-131/12 and the European Union
(EU)’s Proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation, aims to demonstrate to the records
management (RM) profession, the importance of being proactively involved in records creation
identication and the challenges of performing sound retention analyses for newly emerging activities.
It also serves as a call to the RM profession that more active participation in law-making processes is
needed.
Design/methodology/approach The research selects the current right to be forgotten
phenomenon as an illuminating case and examines it with fundamental RM concepts and principles, in
particular those relating to records creation and retention. The research process consists of three major
parts: one, the establishment of an analytical framework based on RM theories; two, description of the
selected case that is relevant to the analysis; and three, the application of the analytical framework to the
described case.
Findings – Records retentions are much needed for the activities of data controllers that are now
established by the most recent Judgment of the European Court of Justice pertinent to the right to be
forgotten and the proposed General Data Protection Regulation. The determination of retention periods
for such activities requires an RM framework that synthesizes the identication of digital records and
the various types of value associated with the different usages of records. It is also observed that the
data protection legal framework does not address RM considerations, or at least, not in any explicit,
easily recognizable manners.
Research limitations/implications – Records retentions are much needed for the activities of data
controllers and/or processors that are now required by the Judgment of the European Court of Justice
and the proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation, yet the legal framework does not offer any
assistance in establishing retentions. It is also observed that the data protection legal framework fully
acknowledges the importance of records but fails to address RM considerations – at least, not in any
explicit, easily recognizable manners.
Practical implications – The ndings are expected to be instructive to data controllers and/or
processors, in particular with respect to records creation identication and records retention
establishment in their organizations. It is also expected that the observations generated during the
analysis process could shed light on the development of the RM profession.
Social implications The right to be forgotten in the digital world has newly acquired
complications, and it has the potential to affect not just the privacy right but also the rights considered
conicting to it, such as the rights of freedom of press and freedom of expression/speech. Efcient and
effective RM programs should be able to assist their parent organizations in dealing with this
The author expresses her sincere gratitude to the anonymous reviewer for the appreciation of the
article and the very thoughtful suggestions.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0956-5698.htm
Records
management
examination
279
Received 2 November 2015
Revised 22 May 2016
Accepted 2 July 2016
RecordsManagement Journal
Vol.26 No. 3, 2016
pp.279-292
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0956-5698
DOI 10.1108/RMJ-11-2015-0038

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