Data Privacy Regulations in the European Union


If you are a genealogist researching ancestors in one of the twenty-eight-member European Union countries, you have reason to be concerned. Changes in the EU privacy laws may impact access to family history records in the future.

EU Data Privacy Regulations

The European Union is considering new Data Privacy Regulations which include the “right to be forgotten.” A press release on December 15, 2015 announced that the European Commission, European Parliament, and the European Council had reached agreement on the draft regulations which will include the consent of consumers to use their data. The current version is expected to pass after consideration by the European Parliament in the spring of 2016. The version under consideration may be accessed at

Right to Erasure

the last two years an EU court decision required Google to erase links to specific web pages and sets the precedent for the “right to erasure” for all data aggregators doing business in EU countries, even if the company has no physical presence in Europe. In a recent French Court, the plaintiff, a French attorney, sued to have Google remove the links on its worldwide global search engine domains—and won.

California Law Protects Minors

In January 2015, a new California law took effect which enables minors to have embarrassing materials removed from their Internet pages. Is this a precursor of more to come in the United States?

Subscribe to for Updates

RPAC is following privacy developments in the EU. Subscribe to the Records Advocate to receive updates on state, federal, and international laws and regulations that limit access to records used by genealogists.

For More Information about EU Data Privacy Regulations

IAJGS is one of the sponsoring members of RPAC. The IAJGS Records Alert closely follows EU activities. If you want more information the IAJGS Records Alert and archive can be accessed at You must be a registered subscriber to access the archives. To register go to: and follow the instructions.

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Jan Alpert

Chair of the Records Preservation and Access Committee, former president and board member of the National Genealogical Society, and chair of the NGS conference committee.

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