SECTIONS ON THIS PAGE
- Confidentiality in Communications
- Disclosure of Confidential Information
- Nondisclosure Agreements/NDAs and Mandatory Arbitration Clauses
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There are many questions in the topic area of confidentiality and disclosure. Some are already settled law, others are emerging and under discussion. At this time, it seemed like the best way to address these interrelated issues was to have a section on each general area rather than sections based on resource sites as in most other pages.
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Confidentiality in Communications
Abuse/Violence Victims and Service Providers
RAINN is the acronym for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Their State Law Database contains an entire section on confidentiality laws: Laws about Private Communications – “Are conversations between victims and sexual assault service providers kept confidential?” The comparison chart has one expandable box for each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. The data box answers the following questions:
- What relationships qualify for privileged communications?
- Who holds the privilege and has the right to waive it?
- Are there any exceptions to the privilege?
- Statutory citation(s).
Click on the “+” sign to expand the entry to see detailed information on these questions. Click on the “-” minus sign to collapse a state’s data. (You can leave multiple boxes open simultaneously, if desired.)
Clergy and “Privileged Communications”
The Child Welfare Information Gateway has a relevant document where a primary topic relates to “privileged communications” between clergy members and “penitents”/parishioners. It includes state laws on the subject and can also be accessed through the Child Welfare Information Gateway portal page, via the category of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect – “This factsheet discusses laws that require members of the clergy to report cases of suspected child abuse and neglect. The issue of whether a member of the clergy can claim privileged communications as a reason for not reporting also is discussed. Full-text excerpts of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.” [Emphasis added.]
Recording Phone Calls and Conversations
Research investigations and writing for news reports or blog posts can potentially involve recording phone calls or in-person conversations with abuse survivors, alleged perpetrators and enablers, and others interviewees. Questions arise as to whether a reporter or citizen journalist blogger can record these interactions at all, with their own “one-party consent,” or requiring “two-party consent” of both interviewer and interviewee(s).
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Disclosure of Confidential Information
Rightful and Wrongful Disclosure of Confidential Information and Documents on Child Abuse
The Child Welfare Information Gateway has several relevant documents where a primary topic relates to disclosure of confidential information and records. These documents include state laws on the subject and can be accessed through the portal page, via the category of Child Abuse and Neglect. Those topics are:
Cross-Reporting Among Responders to Child Abuse and Neglect – “State laws that authorize cross-reporting and information sharing among the agencies that must respond to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. Typically, reports are shared among social services agencies, law enforcement departments, and prosecutors’ offices.”
Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records – “[O]verview of state laws that designate the officials and entities that may have access to the confidential records of child abuse and neglect reports and investigations, the circumstances under which information may be disclosed, and the appropriate use of confidential information.”