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The primary purpose of a Certificate of Confidentiality is to

  • Allow law enforcement to investigate abuse cases.
  • Protect researchers from disclosing conflicts of interest.
  • Prevent subjects from knowing the purpose of a study.
  • Protect identifiable research information from compelled disclosure.

“Protect identifiable research information from compelled disclosure” is the primary purpose of a certificate of confidentiality. It ensures the secrecy of research information in any proceedings and doesn’t concern the level of government.

Certificate of Confidentiality (CoC)

A certificate of confidentiality is a legal document issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and several national agencies to someone. Especially, someone employed in recognizable and sensitive information like clinical, behavioral, medical, and others receives CoC. Its objective is to protect from that uncovers the privacy of investigation or study subjects. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) approves the projects that are qualified to get the CoC.

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According to authorizing federal law, no one can compel a person holding CoC in any criminal, legislative or executive proceedings to specify the research that falls under CoC. Therefore, CoC sustains the secrecy of confidential information that minimizes danger to the subject matter.

Other than federally funded research, a certificate of confidentiality facilitates protection to any research that the issuing institution considers is suitable.

The Primary Purpose of Certificate of Confidentiality

The primary purpose of a certificate of confidentiality is to protect the person holding CoC from being compelled to reveal or broadcast their confidentiality of identifiable and sensitive research information. In simple terms, it ensures privacy from being disclosed. Sensitive information such as cognitive health, sexual mindsets, finance, hereditary data, and others are protected. CoC assembles perceptible information and details that harm an individual negatively if it is disclosed.

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CoC allows someone to decline to reveal information in civil, legislative or executive proceedings nonetheless of the level of government. For example, a company holding certificate of confidentiality can decline a judge’s order to disclose sensitive information in a court.

Limitation of CoC

There are limitations to the extent of protection provided by a certificate of confidentiality. As the information can be disclosed if the investigator confirms voluntarily. CoC does not prohibit investigators from any disclosure informing the authorities. An investigator must prepare a consent form in order to reveal certain information even after receiving CoC.

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Expiration Date of CoC

A certificate of confidentiality is issued by NIH and US health agencies for a particular period. After the expiration of CoC, sensitive information of research is not protected from being revealed or broadcasted. However, CoC can be renewed before it expires. It’s better to renew in advance so that the entire data and information from the funding can be protected.

Replacement of original CoC holder ( Concerning the validity of CoC )

Yes, the CoC is still valid even when the original certificate holder is replaced. But the CoC must be revised in order to show the change.

Hence, a certificate of confidentiality ensures the protection of identifiable research information from forced or compelled revelations. It is issued based on federal laws.

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