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Privacy and Confidentiality

While Wisconsin law guarantees access to most public records, it also safeguards the individual’s right to privacy by preserving the confidential status of certain records. Both federal and state laws identify certain types of records as confidential, and provide guidelines concerning the training of personnel who collect and have access to such information. Included among these confidential records are:

  • Most medical information
  • Information pertaining to juveniles
  • Records covered by the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • Records related to law enforcement or litigation while the case remains open
  • Others as specifically cited

When developing their records schedules, university offices must also identify those records series that contain personally identifiable information and notify the Public Records Board of computer matching programs that provide personally identifiable information. “Personally identifiable information” is defined as information that can associated with a particular individual through one or more identifiers or other information or circumstances.

Records that contain personally identifiable information, however, are not necessarily confidential. For more detailed information concerning confidential records see Chapter 19.62-19.80 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which details state law regarding privacy and confidential information as follows:

  • 19.62 Definitions
  • 19.65 Rules of Conduct, Employee Training, Security
  • 19.67 Data Collection
  • 19.69 Computer Matching
  • 19.71 Sale of Names and Addresses
  • 19.77 Summary of Case Law and AG Opinions
  • 19.80 Penalties