Digital archives and data protection: the right to update and contextualise newspaper news

The topical subject related to the keeping of newspaper news in digital archives and to the respective data protection implications has made a comeback following the recent ruling of the Court of Cassation No. 5525 of 5 April 2012. The Supreme Court has reversed the previous stance of the Italian Data Protection Authority, which had constantly deemed it lawful to keep press articles — as historical documents — in digital archives, thus declaring the groundlessness of any requests to remove the news becoming potentially libellous from the historical archives, since they are no longer about current events.

In particular, the case started from a litigation news article, published in April 1993 in a well-known national newspaper, reporting the past litigation record of a politician — at the time, local administrator — who had been arrested for corruption. Even if the matter had been settled without any criminal consequences for the politician, such article, after a long time, could still be found on the digital archive of the newspaper at issue, thus consequently linked by search engines and therefore any internet user could find it. For this reason, the party concerned initially lodged a petition with the Italian Data Protection Authority requesting the block of the data from the newspaper’s digital archive…

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