Public archives typically contain information on individuals. Occasionally, this information may be of a kind that most people would prefer to keep private – we do not want these data to be generally known. If such data are recorded in the archives, it is because the public authorities at one point needed access to this information for some purpose or other.
In many cases, we have ourselves provided the authorities with this information, but on the understanding that it may only be used for truly necessary purposes, and that public servants and governmental bodies that require access to this information or are in charge of archives containing such data shall not be allowed to disclose it to any other parties.
Information on trade secrets and matters of defence and foreign affairs may also be regarded as confidential. In addition, special confidentiality provisions are set forth in certain separate laws, including the Norwegian Statistics Act.
Occasionally, deciding what is actually confidential and what is not is left to individual judgement. For personal information, the rule of thumb is that information most people would prefer to keep private is considered confidential, including health issues, political opinions, personal finances, criminal records, family law issues, etc.
As for business information, the general rule is that data other parties may exploit for business purposes are considered confidential.