Threats to Openness in the Digital World

November 24, 2015 @ 12:30 pm – November 25, 2015 @ 3:30 pm
The Great Hall
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 8ST

Threats to Openness in the Digital World

This conference will consider and debate the issues surrounding the growing threats to citizens’ rights to access public archives in the digital world, a world which has made access to and review of records a more complex and challenging issue. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to listen to and actively engage in a critical discussion with leading UK and international figures experienced in dealing with access issues at the most senior levels in government, academia and the records management and archives profession.

We will hear from Sir Alex Allan, who is currently conducting a review of records management in government, the Deputy Information Commissioner, the President of the Royal Irish Academy, a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council and experts from a range of disciplines, including archives, science, social science and law who come from the UK, Ireland and Europe.

This conference is supported by:

  • Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
  • IT as a Utility Network+


The delegate rate for this conference is £75. This rate includes the full conference with hospitality as indicated in the below programme.

Please book a place at this conference by using the Book now button above.


Proposed programme

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

12.30 Registration and buffet lunch

The Great Hall, Sutherland Building, Northumbria University

14.00 Welcome address

14.10 Introductions by Professor Julie McLeod, Professor in Records Management, Northumbria University

14.20 Session 1: The digital context and the nature of the record

This session will focus on the new paradigm which the move to the digital has brought about. A paradoxical world in which there is potentially more information, but in which the issues of sensitivity and access may result in less material being released, while difficulties of selection may leave holes in the record and technological issues may mean less will survive.

Chair: Professor Julie Mcleod, Northumbria University


Professor Michael Moss, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Information Science, Northumbria University, Tim Gollins, National Records of Scotland, Professor Jeremy Frey, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Southampton and Dr David Thomas, Northumbria University.

15.30 Refreshments

16.00 Session 1 continued

Professor Andrew Hoskins, Interdisciplinary Research Professor in College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow

Discussion with delegates and speakers

17.00 – 18.30 Evening reception

The Great Hall, Sutherland Building, Northumbria University


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

8.30 Refreshments

The Great Hall, Sutherland Building, Northumbria University

9.00 Session 2: The legal perspective

This session will focus on how data protection and Freedom of Information legislation have impacted on access to information in the digital age and the continuing tension between openness and privacy, transparency and the right to be forgotten

Chair: Dr David Thomas, Northumbria University


Dr David Erdos, University Lecturer in Law and the Open Society, University of Cambridge, Graham Smith, The Deputy Information Commissioner and Agnes Jonker, Senior Lecturer in Archives, Archiefschool, University of Amsterdam

10.30 Refreshments

11.00 Session 3: Current Issues

Chair: Professor Michael Moss, Northumbria University

25 minutes each

Sir Alex Allan, Former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Cabinet Office – digital records in the UK government

Arthur Lucas, Former Principal, King’s College London; member of Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Archives and Pubic records since 2006 – Closing historic documents: lay scrutiny of closure requests

The speakers will talk from their own experience about current issues.

12.45 Lunch

13.30 Session 4: Trust and Consent

Professor Mary Daly, President of the Royal Irish AcademyDigital archives in relation to some recent Irish commissions and inquiries – including the various Banking Inquiries,

14.30 Session 5: What must be done

The final discussion will look to the future. It will consider potential ways of moving forward, actions required, partnerships and collaborations as well as new challenges. It will draw on the discussion and debate witnessed during the conference as well as providing new views.

Chair: Professor Julie Mcleod

15.30 – Conference close

Closing remarks and thanks by Professor Julie McLeod

Speaker profiles are available


Please find reccommendation for accommdation for this conference. This accomodation is reccommended due to location to the campus and Newcastle Railway Station.

Premier Inn, New Bridge Street – A 5 minute walk from Northumbria University, City Campus

Thistle Hotel, Newcastle City Centre – Located opposite Newcastle Railway Station and a 15 minute walk to Northumbria University, City Campus