Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives

Certificate Eligibility: 
Certificate Eligibility: 
5 ARC, 0.75 CEU
1 day
Max Attendees: 
Tactical & Strategic

This course covers privacy and confidentiality legal issues specific to archives of digital material. You'll examine the intersection of (and the tension between) privacy/confidentiality, free speech, and freedom to research/write, and focus on how electronic records and the digital realm have altered the scene. You’ll look at privacy and confidentiality issues in the context of third-party rights, donors, special situations such as medical and education records, national security legislation, and the overriding impact of the digital world. Through case studies, you will examine specific situations pertinent to the work of archivists.


The focus of the day will be on how to think through and identify options for resolving the most commonly encountered privacy and confidentiality legal issues regarding electronic records.


To obtain the A&D certificate, you must take either Copyright Issues for Digital Archives or Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives.

Learning Outcomes: 
Recognize and discuss common legal issues relating to privacy and confidentiality issues in general and for digital archives in particular
Interpret these issues from an archivist’s perspective
Realize when ingested records pose possible privacy and confidentiality legal issues
Identify, employ, analyze, and compare the ramifications of a variety of legal steps that you might take to prevent or address one of the legal issues
Communicate and work more effectively with your legal counsel and administration
Who Should Attend?: 

Archivists and others who need to address privacy and confidentiality legal issues relating to the digital archives of their institutions

What You Should Already Know: 

You should have intermediate to advanced knowledge of archival practices and basic knowledge of general privacy and confidentiality concerns and their effect on archives, including an understanding of how archivists typically address such concerns.


This course builds on others, including Basics of Managing Electronic RecordsElectronic Records—The Next Step, and Providing Access to Born-Digital Archives.

DAS Core Competency: 
2. Communicate and define terminology, requirements, roles, and responsibilities related to digital archives to a variety of stakeholders.
A&D Core Competency: 
2. Description: Analyze and describe details about the attributes of a record or collection of records to facilitate identification, management, and understanding of the work.
6. Ethics: Convey transparency of actions taken during arrangement and description and respect privacy, confidentiality, and cultural sensitivity of archival materials.
7. Risk Management: Analyze threats and implement measures to minimize ethical and institutional risks.
"I found the dialogue between students and instructor to be very helpful. It is interesting to hear the types of issues arising in other institutions to broaden my perspective and help me think more in depth about privacy concerns."
"The workshop posed a lot of interesting questions that I hadn't thought about before. It definitely changed the way I perceive the work we are and are not doing at my Archives. I walked away with more questions, which was a good thing—it made me really start to think about privacy and what my role in the administration of it is."
"Since I deal with donors, I really liked the sections on dealing with revising practices for electronic records. The content about ethical decisions and law based decision was also excellent."
"Reviewing the overall concepts was helpful, confirming some information I already knew, while also learning new aspects of various rights/issues. The team exercises and discussions allowed us to better understand ideas as well."
"I enjoyed the discussion and concepts that were exchanged during group discussions. The course material created a reference source now that the workshop is over."
"The case studies were very interesting and led to some good discussions around the room. ... I really valued the perspectives of my colleagues." — Donna McCrea
Co-Sponsor Provides: 
  • Classroom: 6-foot tables with two chairs each or 8-foot tables with three chairs each
  • Table, chair, and lectern for instructor
  • Instructor workstation (a PC or laptop that has a USB port, runs standard MS Office software, and has PowerPoint)
  • LCD projector and replacement bulb for the LCD projector
  • Projection screen
  • Clicker for the PowerPoint slideshow, if possible
  • Internet access
  • Lapel microphone
  • Coffee/tea/water for morning break
  • Water/assorted soft drinks for afternoon break