Title: Archives, Ethics and the Law in India: A Guidebook for Archivists in India
Author: Published by Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), India, in collaboration with the Milli Archives Collective
Why we have selected it?
This is a newly published resource, which has been produced with support from ICA’s Fund for the International Development of Archives (FIDA) programme in 2022. Although it is India focused, it will also be of use to archivists from other countries. It is illustrative of the kinds of projects FIDA supports, so by highlighting this book this month, we also encourage archivists to look at FIDA and to consider applying for support in the future. The next call for projects for FIDA will be launched in the next few weeks.
What will you find in this resource?
The project, Archives, Ethics and the Law in India, aims to learn from and train archivists and users of archives in India to respond to questions of archives, copyright, ownership and access, and the public’s rights to information and privacy. The resources of the ICA, its Universal Declaration on Archives, its 1996 Code of Ethics have underpinned the principles of this guidebook, especially its code of ethics. The guidebook is the culmination of several months of seminars, workshops, roundtables and expert consultation, which addressed two distinct tasks. The first was the development of guides on the legal frameworks that apply to archives in India. The second was the development of an ethical code that works together with the legal framework to help archivists make decisions in archival work that are both legal and ethical. Between March 28-31, 2022, NCBS hosted an online seminar covering issues related to ethics, copyright, ownership and access, rights to information and privacy. The 4-day seminar included: Speakers from 8 different archival organisations in India presenting ethical and legal encounters specific to their archival environment; talks from archival researchers on being in the archive; presentations from information policy law experts in India and abroad on existing and impending legal frameworks that affect Indian archives; panel discussions on archival ethics, access, privacy, data protection and subject rights; and open discussions on case specific ethical and legal questions in archives. These were collated in a best practice document.
These discussions resulted in a second consultative seminar in June 2022, in which a professional ethics working group met during International Archives Week to deliberate upon ethical questions in archives in India. The committee reviewed ethical standards documents from ICA. It also deliberated upon principles of ethically archiving indigenous knowledge by reviewing current global practices as articulated in the Tandanya Declaration, the FAIR principles of data governance together with the CARE principles for indigenous data governance, and the First Nations Principles of OCAP (ownership, control and access and possession). A Code of Ethics that was unanimously agreed upon was drafted. This working group met again later to develop areas that needed detailed attention such as digital ethics and has continued to develop the commentary for final publication in the guidebook.
This guidebook is envisaged as the first in a series of conversations on the intersection between archives, ethics, and law in India. It is an effort to bridge this gap in comprehending how law and ethics intersects with archival practice. Based on interviews and workshops with archivists, as well as original research on the intersection of archival practice and legal regulation, it aims to provide a concise reference for archivists to understand and navigate the legal implications of various kinds of archival functions—from accessioning to disposal—in providing access and references services, or in preserving archival records. While explicitly not constituting legal advice, the guidebook seeks to consolidate information about the kinds of legal considerations that might apply to archival practice. It is intended to act as a point of reference not only for archivists, but for other stakeholders having an interest in how archives might be managed or regulated under the law, including donors, researchers, and policymakers. In particular, its intention is to allow archives to understand and navigate legal hurdles that prevent them from providing equitable access to their records and collections.
The guidebook is divided into eight main chapters: Acquisitions and Appraisals; Access and Use of Archival Records: Copyright; Access and Use of Archival Records; Privacy and Data Protection Law; Public Records Law & Archives; Legal Considerations for the ‘Digital Archive’; Ethics in Archives; Guiding Principles of the Code of Ethics; A glossary and resource list are also included. The chapters open with a brief sentence outlining broad topics that the chapter covers. They also often have a section titled ‘scenario’ that outlines a potential situation faced by an archive. This section either gives a short response to a query that an archive might have, or the rest of the contents of the chapter will help readers flesh out the scenario better.
Discover the Resource by clicking here