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I have been contacted by an individual with a request to remove their name from an article our journal published two years ago. The individual was identified as a Culture and Foreign Language Advisor of the U.S. Army; their post location (city) was also mentioned. This person claims that the author of this article did not asked their permission to include their name in the article, and did not give informed consent to do so.

Is this a valid request? I mean, it may be valid ethically as it may put this person and their relatives at risk, by associating their name with a military program, but since two years have passed since publication and our journal is open-access, this article has been archived on a number of other sites we do not control. So, the info is already out there, no matter how we proceed. Do you think this is also a legal problem? (The journal is located in Central Europe)

1 Answer 1

There's probably nothing to be done here in the US, but I'd check with your journal's in house or general counsel. If the authors have stated true facts about a real person that they obtained through legal means, then they and you are probably in the clear. I'm not a lawyer or your lawyer, but in the US, the publication of facts is pretty liberally allowed by law.

As a courtesy to the Army guy, you might ask the authors to submit a revised version that removes his name, but you probably have a First Amendment right not to go down that slippery slope if you want to stand on principles.