Electronic Archiving – New Obligations of Companies in Serbia
On November 12, 2021, the Government of Serbia passed the Regulation on Uniform Technical-Technological Requirements and Procedures for Preservation and Protection of Archival and Documentary Material in Electronic Form (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 107/2021). The Regulation elaborates the provisions of the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity and harmonizes the legal regime of electronic archiving with the valid regulations in the field of reliable storage of electronic documents.
Digitization on the horizon
As we mentioned earlier in the article on the Archival Material and Archival Activity Act, the terms “archival material in electronic form” and “documentary material in electronic form” include only documentation that was originally created in electronic form. However, it can be inferred from the text of this Regulation and the regulations to which it refers, that its scope of application is wider, and that the new regulatory ventures in the field of archiving have the ultimate goal of digitizing the entire archiving system.
First of all, the establishment of a unique archival information system at the level of Serbia is envisaged. Part of this system is the platform “eArchive” through which the cooperation of the holders of archival material and the competent public archive will take place. Another significant change in this direction is the obligation to compile a list of categories and keep an archive book in electronic form. Furthermore, the separation of documents for the purpose of destruction and for permanent storage, is done by sending a request in electronic form to the competent archive, via eArchive platform.
Bearing in mind that the first upcoming deadline for submitting the archive book is April 30 next year, from this date the subjects who kept the archive book in paper form will have to digitize it.
The Regulation provides for the application of the provisions regarding the reliable storage of electronic documents. This also means a number of new obligations for creators and holders of documentary material, primarily in connection with the preparation of documentation for archiving. For example, each company is required to develop and comply with internal rules for the preparation of documents for reliable electronic storage, to prepare a report on their implementation on an annual basis and update them in accordance with regulatory, technological and other relevant changes affecting electronic archiving.
Preparing for storage itself may involve conversion to formats suitable for long-term storage, which are prescribed in detail for each type of document. In addition to these, a number of other obligations aimed at preserving the authenticity and security of documents that are electronically archived are envisaged – recording data on the creator, determining the prescribed metadata and other obligations.
The new regime enters into force on September 1, 2022, hence that is the deadline for harmonization of creators and holders of archival material with the new obligations and procedures. However, the fulfillment of new and specified obligations requires the prior establishment of the mentioned unique information system at the level of the entire state, so the question remains when we can expect the modern archiving system for which the new regulatory framework is preparing us, to come to life.