Maguire, Rachael. Information rights for records managers. London: Facet Publishing, 2019. xii, 212 p. ISBN 978-1-78330-244-4. £69.95
When working in the public sector with information and documentation, we often meet many legal terms and regulations. They are especially important when working with sensitive private information, such as person’s health state, background, financial situation, data on family members or similar. In some cases, we need to pay close attention to them and seek to protect the person and the data, in the others often disregard them, though recently different juridical aspects of information work have come to the foreground in relation to the General Data Protection Regulation.
Information right of the citizens to request and get access to information from the public sector institutions is recognized in all European states and many others. The regulations of the requesting process and subsequent provision of answers to satisfy them may differ, but the right is acknowledged and the due mechanisms to ensure it exist on a wide scale.
However, as a rule the people working in information-intensive public organisations do not have any special juridical education. Therefore, the handbooks and instructional materials on how to deal with these issues are very welcome. This is pointed out by the author of the book - a records manager at the London School of Economics and a scholar investigating legal aspects of records management.
Despite the fact that the word 'handbook' is not used in the title of the book, it is nothing less than a good and detailed handbook. It is addressed to the managers of any public records, data and documents that are produced and handled in the public sector organizations, but also can be found in the private organization due to particular legal regulation of their activities. Though the author presents the theoretical concepts important to the subject (e.g., freedom of information or data protection principles) and to some extent discusses them, the main value of the book lies in the detailed explanation of regulations, procedures and actions that the information professionals have to follow to ensure the information rights of the citizens. As every right has its limitations, a significant attention is given to the exemptions from information freedom (privacy, security, etc.) and the legal documents regulating these areas.
The author is also introducing the main actors involved in setting up the regulations and ensuring that they are followed, as well as a number of projects illustrating the implementation of the legal process. The whole text is full of references to legal documents and provisions in particular laws. And this is the main limitation of the handbook: it is based on the acts and practices of the United Kingdom only. One may find the material about the variation between the regulation in England and Scotland, quite significant discussion of the older and newer relevant European Union directives (especially, the GDPR), which influence the work of British records managers, as well as references to other international documents. But basically the book is addressing the needs of British records managers. The author explains this limitation herself, but only when reading through the text, one recognizes how significant this adherence to one country regulation is.
So, from my point of view, this text should be found on the desk of every employee involved in managing information for the public in the United Kingdom. It would give them indispensable support in solving more or less complicated cases related to the information right: from heading directly to the most relevant document to recognizing harassing requests. The most advanced and sensitive issues and cases related to automated processing, profiling, ePrivacy, access to medical records, or charging fees and others are covered in the book and explain the regulations and practice in the United Kingdom.
As for the information professionals in other countries, this may be a good guidance to understand the areas of tension and possible complications, but on a more general level. On the other hand, the book may draw attention of the colleagues of Rachael Maguire elsewhere and prompt an idea of creating similar handbooks for their respective countries.
University of Borås < /br> September, 2019
How to cite this review
Maceviciute, E. (2019). Review of: Maguire, Rachael.. Information rights for records managers. London: Facet Publishing, 2019. Information Research, 24(3), review no. R671 [Retrieved from http://www.informationr.net/ir/reviews/revs671.html]
Information Research is published four times a year by the University of Borås, Allégatan 1, 501 90 Borås, Sweden.