Sensitive Data

Broadly, sensitive data is information that could potentially impact on the rights of others. The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) includes the following definition of sensitive data in their Publishing Sensitive Data guide:
Sensitive data identifies individuals, species, objects or locations, and carries a risk of causing discrimination, harm or unwanted attention.

Often confidential, it can include identifiable personal and health/medical data, Indigenous data, ecological data (e.g. the location of rare or endangered species), and commercial-in-confidence data.

Sensitive data is commonly subject to legal and ethical obligations that impose restrictions on how it is accessed, used and handled.

Personal information is sensitive if it directly identifies a person and includes one or more pieces of information from Table 1 (Part I, Division I, Section 6) of the Privacy Act 1988. This information includes:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Political opinions
  • Membership of a political association
  • Religious beliefs or affiliations
  • Philosophical beliefs
  • Membership of a professional or trade association
  • Membership of a trade union
  • Sexual orientation or practices
  • Criminal record
  • Health information (see section 6FA for definition)
  • Genetic information
  • Biometric information.

While sensitive data cannot be published in its original form, in almost all cases, it can be shared using a combination of:

The  Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC)  has produced a Publishing and sharing sensitive data - flowchart which explains how to publish sensitive data for maximum benefit in a way that is safe and ethical.

Refer also to Access Conditions (Open, Conditional, Restricted).