The Royal Musical Association is a membership organization. As such, we need to keep certain information (or data) on each of our members in order to provide them with the benefits of membership. All members have opted in to providing this information by the act of applying for membership in the first place.
At a minimum, we need to have at least one piece of contact information. An email address allows us to send members electronic communications; it also validates their membership so they can log in to the password-protected members’ section of the RMA website and make use of the resources available there, including voting electronically in elections of the Association’s trustees. A postal address allows us to have copies of the printed RMA journals sent to members, and allows us to communicate with members who do not have or do not wish to give us an email address.
All members have complete control over what information they make available to the RMA, through the online membership database maintained on the RMA website, which includes a number of optional items such as research interests or institutional affiliation. This database is encrypted and password-protected; each member has access to all the data they have provided to the Association and can change this at any time, and they can determine what, if any, of this information is shown to other members in the online Directory of Members. The Directory is not accessible to non-members. The RMA does not make any membership information available to any other organization, with the following exceptions:
- In order (as mentioned above) to have copies of the printed journals sent to members, we provide the publishers with a mailing list for each issue. They are instructed to use this information for no other purpose (such as marketing), and to destroy the list immediately after use.
- When members or any other persons provide bank details to arrange online payment, we enter this information into our bank’s online payments system; the information is then held securely by the bank, not by us, and we destroy the letter or email message by which it was communicated to us. We can have this information removed from the bank’s system upon request from the person concerned.
- If we should be required by law to provide members’ information to a law-enforcement or other governmental body, we shall do so.
Except as detailed above, the membership database as a whole is accessible only to the Executive Officer, the Communications Officer, and (for maintenance purposes only) the Digital Technologies Officer of the Association.
When someone explicitly resigns permanently from membership, or we learn of a member’s death, their membership information is retained until the end of the calendar year, so a historical record of the membership during that year can be kept; it is then permanently removed. When someone tells us that they wish to resign membership temporarily, or their membership lapses on account of non-payment of subscriptions (which is often inadvertent), their membership information is retained for three years in order to simplify the process of resuming membership, before being permanently removed.
The RMA retains non-trivial correspondence for the historical record. A member can request to have any correspondence from them destroyed. The RMA retains only so long as it is needed any documentation of sensitive personal information (such as references taken up in the search for appointed officers of the Association), and then destroys it. The tangible and electronic records of the RMA are kept securely by the Executive Officer; from time to time archive records more than 30 years old are deposited in the British Library, where they are made accessible to researchers.