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Scholarly Publishing, Data Privacy, and the Public Interest

The realm of scholarly publishing raises a number of considerations for compliance with GDPR, particularly around the regulation’s core principle of the right to be forgotten. One function of scholarly publishing is to produce a historical record of the process involved in reviewing, editing, and publishing research and scholarship, with its own norms of confidentiality and privacy. As such, this form of publishing falls within what the GDPR recognizes as a need “to reconcile the right to the protection of personal data pursuant to this Regulation with the right to freedom of expression and information, including processing for journalistic purposes and the purposes of academic, artistic or literary expression” (GDPR, Article 85). More specifically, the GDPR specifies that “the right of erasure” (Article 17) holds in situations in which “the personal data are no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which they were collected or otherwise processed.” In scholarly publishing, data concerning the authors, editors, reviewers, and others involved in the editorial and publishing process remains necessary for the purposes of the journal or press, and, as such, forms part of a record that the GDPR allows “for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes the preservation of which is in the public interest” (Recital 65). This does not apply to everyone registered with PKP software, as someone solely involved in the role of a “reader” would have reasonable grounds to expect a request to be forgotten to be honored by a journal or a press.