Confidentiality and professional secrecy

In principle, all public documents, information and parts of public documents can be disclosed. Information may however, be classified as confidential which means that it is prohibited to disclose the information. A person who has access to information covered by confidentiality have a duty of professional secrecy.

Confidentiality can only be applicable if there is provision in the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (Swedish Code of Statutes 2009:400) in Sweden. There is further information in the document Vägledning för offenlighet och sekretess (in Swedish).

Professional secrecy

It is punishable by law to, orally or by presenting a document, disclose confidential information to a member of the public. Professional secrecy and confidentiality also apply within a public authority, between employees, and between cases. Only public officials who have a specific "need to know" to complete their work tasks may access the confidential information.

Breach of the duty of confidentiality

Breaches of the professional secrecy can have the consequences of disciplinary actions or criminal charges. Employees at the University as well as others who have assignments within the University and have such links to the University that they can be regarded to participate in the University's activities are bound by duties of professional secrecy. If you at any point have been bound by professional secrecy you remain by this duty even after having left your post or role.

Exceptions to the duty of confidentiality

There are exceptions to the professional secrecy. As an employee at a public authority you have a freedom to communicate information to the press without risk of consequences. This also applies to confidential information to some extent. If you want to report irregularities or wrongdoings by whitle blowing you may disclose relevant confidential information without consequence. You can find more information about freedom of communication and whistle blowing under If something happens.

Confidentiality within the administration

The Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act includes provisions that regulate secrecy related to amongst other things; information regarding staff and people seeking employment, the University's and others financial concern, for example in connection to a procurement, for library activities and information in connection to individuals for example regarding health.

In principle, a party to a case has the right to access all information that has been added to a case, even if the information is covered by confidentiality in order for the party to be able to protect their interests in the case.

Confidentiality in research

In research projects, there may be information that is covered by confidentiality. For example, it can be information about the health and personal circumstances of individuals.

Confidentiality in collaboration with companies

If you cooperate with a company in your research, information about the company's operating conditions, inventions and research results may be covered by confidentiality. Information can also be considered secret due to intellectual property rights, for example in the case of a patent application.

Regardless of the fact that confidentiality may exist for information provided by a company to the University, the University can never guarantee complete confidentiality in an agreement. Any confidentiality agreements, sometimes called non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), should be signed with the University as a party, not by you as an individual researcher. Contact a legal officer if you cooperate with or intend to cooperate with a company that wishes to have an agreement containing confidentiality provisions. In addition to breach of the principle of public access to public access, confidentiality provisions in an agreement may also mean that you as a researcher abdicate the right to publish the results, which is one of the reasons you are recommended to let a legal officer always review these agreements.

Transferred confidentiality

If you request documents from another public organisation, e.g. authority or region, these documents may be confidential from the disclosing organisation. In this case, the data are subject to the same confidentiality rules at the University. As a researcher, you must be observant of whether the documents you handle in the project are covered by such transferred confidentiality. If you are considering sharing research data with another party to the project, an assesment must be carried out if such disclosure can take place considering possible confidentiality.

Confidentiality in connection to students and education

Most information involving students are public but there are several provisions in the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act that apply to students. These provisions connect to a student's personal affairs in contact with the student health clinic or other documents regarding health and personal affairs.

Confidentiality can also in some cases be applicable regarding business or technical parts at a business where a student preforms part of their education in collaboration with said business. However, studentwork should as far as it is possible be designed so that such information is avoided.

Contact information

Contact the Legal Affairs Office on

Contact the data protection officers with questions regarding personal data management

Elisabeth Mach