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Anonymity vs. Confidentiality

Confidentiality and anonymity are two terms that can easily be confused when it comes to data handling. Even though they seem similar, they are completely different. Knowing what sets them apart can help when it comes to protecting individuals. The only thing they have in common is they are used to limit the information made accessible to others.  

If the two terms confuse you, you can look at this post and hopefully get the information you need to help you understand the terms better. It will also help you know what to expect before you give out your personal information.

Confidentiality 

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The term confidentiality is mainly used in some activities like research. The participants provide their personal information that can be traced to the results. While the results of the participation are known, there is a limit to the number of people who have access to information concerning the connection.

Information is confidential if the identity of a person is known by a few people and the connection between the individual and an activity remains hidden. There are rules governing confidentiality in different fields. However, confidentiality can be breached under special circumstances.

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Pros 

  • Sensitive information is protected. For instance, medical information remains between the physician and the patient and attorney-client privilege keeps any information between the attorney and the client.
  • For businesses, it can help when it comes to marketing since they choose the information that will be revealed.
  • In some fields like medicine, the information kept in confidence can be used to save a person’s life if the situation allows for the breach.

Cons

  • Since the information released is limited, the consumer might not get all the information they need concerning a product or service.
  • There is no guarantee that the information will stay hidden. There is a chance that the information might leak and severe consequences can follow.

There are also instances where the information can be revealed. These are specific circumstances and you never know what will happen once that information is out.

Anonymity

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When it comes to anonymity, a person’s identity is unknown. The personal information of the person is not known and any connection to an activity cannot be determined. When information is anonymous, anything a person does cannot be traced back to them.

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Pros

  • You can be yourself without fear of being judged or criticized. There is a sense of safety knowing that no one will trace the connection between you and a post or activity.
  • You can share information and start conversations without fear of being discovered. If there is something wrong going on, you can be a whistleblower without suffering any repercussions.
  • You can explore the internet and make new connections. Online, you can be anyone you want. Being anonymous gives you the freedom to do try out different things and see where your tastes lie.
  • If you are browsing anonymously, you can have some safety assurance. This is because you know your identity is hidden and no know will find out about your identity.

Cons 

  • While it is fun making friends online, you can easily end up addicted to your persona and life online. This can make you miss on chances to make connections in the real world.
  • Whistleblowers or other people who speak out without giving their information are usually perceived to be lying. There is a belief that if you are not doing anything wrong, there is no need to hide.
  • The freedom to post or say things anonymously can be misused by some people especially online. There are people who will use their online profiles to bully and intimidate others since they know they will not be discovered.
  • In case your identity is outed, you can find yourself in physical danger. You can also find yourself being trolled and bullied and this can make you suffer from various issues.

Final Verdict

Both are necessary when it comes to handling information. When interacting online and doing anything that involves handling of information, you need to know which road you will take to protect other people. When taking part in different activities, you need to know whether your information will be anonymous or confidential. Read the fine print before giving out your personal information. 

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Written by Virily Editor

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