Health Information

Business secrets and confidential information - what is the difference?


An explanation of the concept of "confidential information" can be found in several regulations (for example):

1. According to Art. 2 of the Law "On Information, Information Technologies and the Protection of Information" dated July 27, 2006 No. 149-ФЗ is certain information that cannot be transmitted and distributed by the person who has access to it without the consent of its owner.

2. According to paragraph 2 of the Regulation for the exchange of electronic documents, approved by order of the Federal Tax Service of Russia dated 12.12.2006 No. SAE-Z-13848 @, this is information requiring protection, access to which is limited in accordance with:

  • current legislation of the Russian Federation,
  • these Rules.

3. According to Art. 2 of the Law "On Participation in International Information Exchange" dated 04.07.1996 No. 85-ФЗ that is invalid is documented information, access to which is limited in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

Thus, confidential information refers to which access is restricted by law.

Explanation of the term "trade secret"

Information constituting a trade secret is decrypted:

  • in Art. 3 of the Law "On Trade Secret" dated July 29, 2004 No. 98-ФЗ - as information of any nature, of commercial value and not available to third parties, in respect of which the holder has introduced a trade secret regime,
  • in clause 5 of the List of Confidential Information (approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 188 of March 6, 1997) as information related to commercial activities, access to which is limited in accordance with the Civil Code of the Russian Federation and federal laws.

To understand the specificity of the term “commercial information”, it is important to detail the concept of “commercial secret” (Clause 1, Article 3 of Law No. 98-FZ). Trade secret means a special privacy regime that allows the holder of commercial information:

  • to strengthen the position in the market of goods (works, services),
  • improve financial performance of your work (increase revenue, avoid unjustified expenses),
  • get other commercial benefits.

Thus, the term "trade secret" refers to information:

  • on the commercial activities of an economic entity,
  • the composition of which is determined by its owner,
  • protected by its owner and persons who have received classified commercial information in the manner prescribed by law (government officials, counterparties, etc.).

Learn about important financial indicators of the company’s activities and their application for financialization from the article “Basic financial ratios and formulas for their calculation”.

The similarity of confidential information with commercially sensitive information

Both types of information:

1. They are the most important intangible resource (asset).

2. In the modern world, they have become goods, products, a subject of labor, and an object of services.

3. They have the following basic properties (ideally):

  • usefulness (value, significance),
  • reliability (reflection of the real situation),
  • completeness (sufficient for understanding),
  • objectivity (independence from any opinion),
  • relevance (materiality and importance at a certain point in time),
  • understandability.

Both types of information are united by such a property with a negative connotation, as vulnerability, expressed in the possibility of violation:

  • information security
  • its integrity
  • and closed to third parties.

In this regard, one more feature that unites the concepts under consideration can be distinguished - the possibility of using the same protection methods (algorithms to reduce its vulnerability) to protect classified commercial information and confidential information. Among such protective measures are:

  • determination of the potential value of information,
  • assessment of the degree of its vulnerability,
  • forecasting possible threats,
  • carrying out a set of measures to restrict access to protected information and create conditions that exclude or impede unauthorized access to it.

On the importance of forecasting in management accounting - see the material “Planning in management accounting - how does this go?”

The main difference between confidential information and classified commercial information

Based on the terms of confidential information and commercial secrets decrypted in the previous sections, we can formulate their main difference:

  • trade secrets are confidential information with a specific focus, associated only with the market activity of an economic entity (with the aim of making a profit),
  • the term "confidential information" has no specific shade and includes a wider range of information with limited access (in addition to classified commercial information): personal data, information constituting an official secret, professional secret, etc.

For more information on the types of confidential information, see the article “What is the difference between official and professional secrets?”

For other differences between these concepts, see the next section.

Additional hallmark of confidential and classified business information

Another feature that distinguishes information classified as commercial secrets from confidential information is the information classification method used:

  • the list of confidential information is determined by the state (Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 188),
  • the formation of a list of classified commercial information is the exclusive prerogative of its owner (Article 4 of Law No. 98-FZ), with the exception of the list of information not subject to classification established by law (Article 5 of Law No. 98-FZ).

When compiling a list of classified commercial information, the following shall be taken into account:

  • field of activity of the company,
  • the specifics of her work,
  • applied technologies
  • suppliers features
  • interests of competitors, etc.

In what document the "secret" list is fixed, we will tell in the next section.

On our portal you will learn about the differences used by most taxpayers related concepts - see materials:

Regulation on trade secrets at the enterprise and work with confidential documents

Regulation of all issues related to the order of work and information protection algorithms can be carried out using a separate local document — provisions on trade secrets, instructions for working with confidential information, etc.

Its structure and content are not regulated by law, therefore, each business entity draws up a similar document independently, taking into account the requirements of regulatory documents considered in our material.

Among the main sections of such a document, the following may be present:

1. Organizational (deciphering the goals and bases of the development of the document, detailing the terms and definitions).

2. The main, containing a description:

  • groups and names of confidential information,
  • access to confidential information,
  • algorithms for working with confidential information,
  • information storage procedures,
  • control schemes for the procedure for access to information and the procedure for working with it,
  • liability measures for disclosure of confidential information.

3. Final (the procedure for familiarizing employees with a document, a scheme for putting it into effect, as well as procedures for updating and canceling it).

You can find the finished document on our website - see material“Regulation on trade secrets - sample of 2017”.

Information constituting a trade secret is an integral part of a voluminous array of confidential information, along with information from the category of official, professional secret, etc.

The list of information of a confidential nature was approved by the President of the Russian Federation in Decree No. 188, and the list of information constituting a trade secret is compiled by each business entity independently (with the exception of generally accessible information, the secret of which is prohibited by law). It includes the most valuable information for its owner, which brings him benefit and profit.

Signs of Secret Information

What information may be a trade secret? Not all information can be protected by trade secrets. Can highlight some mandatory signs of such information:

1. Information not in the public domain. It does not make sense to protect any data that is accessible to interested parties.

2. Owner takes action to protect them. Such protection consists, first of all, in restricting access to it. Information is brought to the attention of only those employees who work directly with it.

Such employees sign the relevant non-disclosure documents, are warned of liability.

A special procedure for working with documents and computers is introduced.

3. Information has economic benefits for its owner.

There is a group of information that cannot be subject to trade secrets.

Such information should be available to all comers by virtue of legislative acts. Among them:

    information that can be learned from constituent documents organizations

data on the level of environmental pollution, fire safety, sanitary and epidemiological situation. Obviously, such data no longer relate to economic benefits, but life and health,

  • about the number of employees, about their pay, about whether there are salary arrears to employees.
  • 4. Information on persons who may act on behalf of the organization without power of attorney.


    How do trade secrets, business secrets and confidential information compare?

    Here are a few categories of such information:

      State secrets - information about the defense capabilities of Russia and its military potential. As well as any data that could harm the state.

    Data of individuals. This and privacy of correspondence, this is personal datathat people do not want to bring to the attention of others, for example, the secret of adoption.

    Information concerning the investigation and the conduct of a specific legal proceedings.

  • Information attributed by the company to trade secret.
  • It is impossible to list all types of confidential information, but it is already clear that trade secrets occupy only a small part of this data array.

    Official secret connected with work in the public service.

    For example, tax authorities are required to refrain from disclosing information about tax revenues from various individuals.

    Knowing the amount of the listed tax payments, you can calculate the income of a particular company or citizen, which may be useful for criminal activity.

    Also registry office workers keep official secretswithout transmitting information about the civil status of persons to those who do not have the right to access such information.

    As you can see, trade secrets are pretty much regulated by companies independently. You must successfully protect this type of confidential information. need to develop local documents: typical forms of employee non-disclosure obligations and measures of their responsibility, modes of use of such information carriers, rules for protecting information in an organization.

    Don't frivolously treat confidential information that has commercial value. Even a small company has its own client base, which will become a tidbit for competitors.

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    First Code of Ethics for Psychologists

    The first code of ethics for psychologists was developed by an authoritative organization - American Psychological Association, its first edition appeared in 1953. This was preceded by the five-year work of the ethics committee, which dealt with many episodes of psychologists' behavior in terms of ethics.

    According to the code, psychologists must protect confidential information received from clients and discuss issues of its protection at the beginning of a therapeutic relationship, and if the circumstances have changed during the consultation, return to this issue. Confidential information is discussed only for scientific or professional purposes and only with persons related to it. Disclosing information without the consent of the client is possible only in a number of cases prescribed in the code. The main points of this disclosure are related to prevent harm to the client and other people.

    Among practicing psychologists in the United States, ethical is also very popular. Code of American Association of Consultants.

    In the USA, you can pay with a license for a violation

    “According to the code of ethics of the American Association of Consultants, publication of a case is possible only after the client has read the text and given written permission or the details have been changed beyond recognition,” says Alena Prikhidko, family therapist. - The consultant should discuss with the client the question of who, where and when will have access to confidential information. The psychotherapist is also required to obtain permission from the client to discuss his case with relatives. Taking a case out into public space without permission threatens at least fine, maximum - revocation of a license. Psychotherapists in the United States value their licenses, because getting them is not easy: you must first graduate, then study for 2 years in an internship, pass exams, pass supervision, know the laws and ethical codes. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine that they will violate the code of ethics and without permission to describe their customers - for example, on social networks. ”

    How about us?

    Russia has not yet adopted a law on psychological assistance; there is no common code of ethics for all psychologists and large prestigious psychological associations that would be heard.

    Russian Psychological Society ( RPO ) tried to create a unified code of ethics for psychologists. It is published on the company's website, and it is guided by psychologists included in the RPO. However, while RPO does not have great authority among professionals, not all psychologists strive to become members of society, most know nothing about this organization.

    The RPO code of ethics on confidentiality in consultative relations says little: "Information obtained by a psychologist in the process of working with a client on the basis of a trusting relationship is not subject to intentional or accidental disclosure outside the agreed conditions." It is clear that the psychologist and the client must agree on the conditions for the disclosure of confidential information and continue to adhere to these agreements.

    It turns out that in Russia among psychologists there is no single understanding of the principles of professional ethics

    The ethical codes of psychologists created at the level of Russian associations in the areas of psychotherapy are also mandatory for use only by members of associations. However, some associations do not have their own ethical codes, and many psychologists are not included in any associations.

    It turns out that today in Russia among psychologists there is no single understanding of the principles of professional ethics. Professionals often superficially understand ethical principles., including little knowledge of the principle of confidentiality. Therefore, more and more often you can see how popular psychologists describe sessions without obtaining permission from clients, compile lists of ridiculous client requests, and make comments to commentators in comments on posts.

    What to do if your case is made public

    Suppose information about working with you was posted by a psychotherapist on the Internet - for example, on social networks. Find out in which professional community your psychologist is (if you haven’t found out before the first consultation).

    If the psychologist is a professional association, you can prevent confidentiality violations against other clients, as well as damage the professional reputation of a specialist. Find a professional community site on the Internet. Look for the Code of Ethics section and read it carefully. Make a complaint and contact the community ethics committee. If you have not found a code and ethics committee contacts, contact the community president directly with the complaint.

    Under the pressure of colleagues, the psychologist will be forced to reconsider his attitude to professional ethics. Perhaps he will be expelled from society, but in any case he will not lose his practice, since the activities of psychologists in our country have not yet been licensed.

    Avoiding privacy violations

    In order to prevent ethical violations, a number of actions must be taken at the stage of choosing a psychologist.

    It is important that the counseling psychologist has not only a basic psychological education, but also professional retraining in one or several areas of psychotherapy. He also needs to undergo personal therapy and regular supervision from more experienced colleagues, to be in professional communities.

    When choosing a specialist.

    . ask for a copy of the diploma about higher education and certificates of professional retraining.

    . Find out in which professional community a psychologist is and who his supervisor is. Visit the association's website, look for your specialist among members of the community. Check out the code of ethics for the association.

    . ask how your psychologist understands privacy. Ask specific questions: “Who but you will have access to confidential information? Who will be able to find out what we will talk about during the consultation? ”An adequate response from the psychologist in this case would be:“ Perhaps I would like to discuss your case with my supervisor. What do you think about it?"

    These precautions will help you find a truly professional psychologist whom you can trust and as a result of working with whom you will receive effective psychological assistance.

    Alexey Averyanov, Associate Professor, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis

    The principle of confidentiality is not absolute - it would be more correct to talk about the boundaries of confidentiality. Conventionally, at least two levels can be distinguished. The first is the level of professional use of customer information. The second - all other cases. In both cases, the psychologist should obtain the client’s documented consent to use any information about him.

    By the way, in some cases, even the consent obtained cannot justify the actions of a psychologist if these actions pose a threat to the well-being, safety and preservation of the personal dignity of the client. Putting customer information into the public space of the Internet is very unsafe, and therefore cannot be ethical by definition.

    Anna Bekirova, Lead Lawyer, Hearst Shkulev Media

    The law does not prohibit cases from practice if customer names are changed. Additional coordination with the client in terms of legislation is not required. If the names are not changed and the text is published without the written consent of the client, this is a violation of the Personal Data Law. It happens that the names of customers are changed, but the key events by which a person can be identified remain unchanged. This is a violation of the law "On the basics of protecting the health of citizens in the Russian Federation", but it is much more difficult to prove it.

    Julia Zakharova - Clinical psychologist, member of the Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, secretary of the Society of Cognitive Psychotherapists and Consultants. Psychologist in the clinic "Doctor is nearby." More on her website .

    Question-answer on the topic

    Is there a difference between trade secrets or confidential information?

    Non-disclosure of confidential information is unacceptable only if the parties have extended the regime of commercial secrets to them and indicated any sanctions for violation.

    That is, confidential information is information that one organization considers not to be divulged. The trade secret regime is established for two or more persons.

    The rationale for this position is given below in the materials of System Lawyer.

    For which confidential information can a non-disclosure agreement be reached?

    An agreement can only be concluded with respect to confidential information that the information holder has recognized as trade secrets.

    Confidential information in itself is not a trade secret. In order for the information to be recognized as a trade secret, it is necessary to introduce a trade secret regime. The owner of the information himself determines the list of information that constitutes a trade secret. That is, one side is not obliged to guess that for the other side the information is confidential and it does not want to distribute it.

    In order to establish a regime for the protection of trade secrets, the information owner must:

    1) determine the list of information that constitutes a trade secret,

    2) to restrict access to it, namely to establish who and how handles this information and who controls it,

    3) to keep records of persons who have gained access to information,

    4) to regulate relations on the use of information:

    • with employees - on the basis of employment contracts and
    • counterparties - based on civil contracts, *

    5) apply the stamp "Commercial Secret" on tangible media that contain information, or include in the details of the documents. It is necessary to indicate the owner of such information:

    • for legal entities - full name and location,
    • for entrepreneurs - F. I. O. and place of residence.

    As a general rule, after the owner of the information has taken these measures, the regime of commercial secrets is considered established (clauses 1 and 2 of article 10 of the Federal Law of July 29, 2004 No. 98-FZ “On Commercial Secrets”, hereinafter referred to as the Law on Commercial secret).