University of Utah Library Guides
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Guide to Organizing Digital Files

Legal Privacy Considerations

Please consider the following legal issues related to privacy (of both yourself and others) when submitting digital files. It is your responsibility to remove these items from the collection. 

  1. Medical records are protected by the Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) for 50 years following the patient's death. If there is medical information (eg. individuals’ medical history, diagnosis, condition, treatment, evaluation, or similar medical data) about either yourself or others that may violate this law, please remove it from the collection. This includes photographs of medical procedures, autopsy, or postmortem photographs.
  2. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects student records including transcripts, financial records, and assignments that can be linked to a particular student through name, student ID number, SSN, etc. If you are a faculty member, please ensure this information is not included in your files. If you are a parent or guardian, please review your files for this information about your dependents. 
  3. Documentation related to sites that require a Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office (PLPCO) permit to access and study including sacred sites, locations of human remains, archaeological sites, etc. 
  4. Private personal information that could lead to potential fraud including social security numbers, bank account numbers, signatures, passports, etc. This type of information is often found on bank statements, checks, correspondence, faculty RPT files, and old CVs. 
  5. Recordings that were not obtained with the consent of all parties recorded (eg. phone conversations or private interpersonal exchanges that were obtained without the consent of all recorded parties). 
  6. Information protected by attorney-client privilege, information sealed by court (particularly in relationship to minors), or information not of public record related to legal proceedings. There are some exceptions to this rule; please contact us for more information. 
  7. Trade secrets. 

Ethical Privacy Considerations

Consider whether an item or collection of items could potentially include:

  • Depictions or documentation of illegal activities. 
  • Private personal information (including information about sexuality, gender, race, religion, disability, etc.) particularly relating to private figures (as opposed to public figures). This type of information is often found in diaries and correspondence. 
  • Depictions of nudity obtained without consent or depictions of nudity that may have been obtained with consent but do not have any documentation or contracts. 
  • Even though an item may have been published (eg. in a newsletter), that does not automatically mean the item is not private. For instance, if personal information was published in a newsletter that was circulated amongst a very limited population in the 1980s, before the widespread use of the internet, there still may be ethical privacy concerns. 
  • Potentially private information about minors should be considered very carefully. 
Marriott Library Eccles Library Quinney Law Library