RDIM Terminology Sensitive Data

Sensitive Data

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

Sensitive data is often about people (i.e. personal information) but ecological data can also be sensitive if it reveals, for example, the location of rare or endangered species. Under law and the research ethics governance of most institutions, sensitive data cannot typically be shared in this form. The Legal and Ethical Framework section outlines the applicable legislation and guidelines.

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:

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