Research ethics. Certificates of confidentiality and compelled disclosure of data.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Certificates of Confidentiality have gained prominence in the context of efforts to build large-scale research platforms and new requirements for an unprecedented degree of data sharing. There is, however, a remarkable paucity of evidence upon which to base conclusions about the strength, applicability, and durability of the legal protections a Certificate affords. Here we describe a recent legal challenge in which a research participant’s data, collected under a Certificate, were subpoenaed as part of a criminal case that reached the North Carolina Court of Appeals. We show how, despite the legal protections ostensibly afforded by the Certificate and the vigorous objections of the Principal Investigator and institutional counsel, the research subject’s confidentiality was ultimately compromised in the course of the legal proceedings; further, we discuss the broader implications of this case for the research enterprise as a whole.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Beskow, LM; Dame, L; Costello, EJ

Published Date

  • November 14, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 322 / 5904

Start / End Page

  • 1054 - 1055

PubMed ID

  • 19008431

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2694567

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-9203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/science.1164100


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States