SPA News from Norwegian Association: Revision of the Norwegian legislation on archives

Nowadays are busy for those of us who have an extensive interest in records management and archives in Norway. A lot of us sharing this particular interest are members of the Norwegian Society of Records Managers and Archivists (NA). Over the last years, NA has argued that a revision of the legislation on archives and records management is urgent every time we have had the authorities’ ears. In September 2017 our continuous nagging was crowned with success when a committee was appointed to work on a revision of the Act on archives which dates back to 1999. Due date for the proposed updated act is March 1st 2019.

The current Act on Archives came into force in 1999 when the parliament sanctioned it and associated regulations (“Regulations on public archives” and “Regulations on complementary technical and recordkeeping requirements regarding the processing of public archives”). The content however, dates back to 1992. Fundamental changes in technology and society have affected the area of records management and archives since then. The transformation to a digital life has enabled and required new ways of organizing public services and the way we work. How we enable transparency and how to protect data. It has also outdated the archives legislation.

The revision process kicked off in 2016 when the Ministry of Culture sent a draft with proposed changes to the regulations on a hearing. After receiving and processing approximately 150 comments and debating adjustments, the parliament sanctioned the updated version in the end of December and we started 2018 with a brand new set of regulations. Although, brand new is an overstatement. The need for modernizing and even digitizing the regulations are still extensive.

Currently, NA engages with giving input to the “Archives Act Committee”. We have presented for the committee once, sent two written inputs, and we have had some clarifying follow-ups. Our input is a result of a tour around Norway last year where we held meetings with all of our members. The aim was to gather their experiences with the current legislation and hear what they would require in a future version.

The main points in our input:

  • It is crucial that the legislation is neutral to technology.
  • Aim for a legislation that can embrace both tomorrow’s as well as yesterday’s technology.
  • Records and archives are not necessarily a result of business within an organization. It is more likely a result of transactions carried out with the use of digital systems that may or may not include human interaction within one organization or between two or several organizations using the same applications and data.
  • The core principles of records remains regardless of technology: records intended as evidence of business activities must prove their integrity, reliability, authenticity and usability through time.
  • The records and archives have value to organizations and the society both in our presence and posterity. They must be managed to support both aspects.

Anja Jergel Vestvold, Chair of the Norwegian Society of Records Managers and Archivists (NA)