Confidentiality is important in a wide variety of circumstances. A lot of information is sensitive; for example, business decisions can be compromised if too many people know about their specifics or people can get an upper hand in negotiations. On a more private level, patients deserve to keep their personal information to themselves.
Counseling information, medical information and any other information that pertains to your personal problems is generally confidential. This is because people can draw unfair conclusions or embarrass you with this information. By keeping it confidential, doctors, counselors and other holders of sensitive information are ensuring that your personal business stays that way.
Products and Processes
Businesses often gain an edge over one another by making new products or by creating new processes. If other companies find out about the specifics of these products or processes, it can undermine their effectiveness. So, confidentiality is often employed in the planning stages of these products and processes in order to keep other companies from finding out about them and either stealing them or otherwise undermining them.
If somebody invents something, he can patent it, which makes it exclusively his. This means that it is illegal for other people to make money off the same invention. However, if an inventor publicly discloses the details of his invention before getting a patent, then he is often effectively forfeiting his rights to a patent. After all, if these details are publicly disclosed, then there's no way for any one person to prove that he was the brains behind it and therefore deserving of a patent.
Civil cases often involve sensitive information. This information can be damaging to both the plaintiff and the defendant if it goes to trial, which is why confidentiality is often used in settlements. This allows both parties to negotiate candidly without fear of public reprisal for the specific terms of the negotiation. The plaintiff can receive the compensation she deserves while the defendant can pay without the much-higher price of bad PR. If these negotiations were not confidential, there would be no impetus for defendants to settle, and cases would not go through court as quickly.
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