The fact that information is confidential does not necessarily rule out all use of such data. Essentially, the following two exceptions apply:

A Party’s Right to Inspect

With few exceptions, any person is entitled to access information about themselves, cf. the Norwegian Public Administration Act, 13a No. 1; 13b No. 1 and 18 ff. A person in need of seeing confidential information to be able to protect his or her own interests in an administrative case is also, under certain conditions, allowed to—or even entitled to—see confidential information on other people.

This right to inspect documents may be exercised by proxy, e.g. through a lawyer.

Research Purposes

Under certain conditions, confidential information may be used for research purposes, cf. the Norwegian Public Administration Act, Section 13 d. Contrary to a party to a case, who has the right to inspect, a researcher is never entitled to access data for research purposes.

Several factors must be considered when deciding on a petition for access to confidential information for research purposes.

  • the research in question must be research in the ordinary sense of this term, subject to the rules set forth in the drafts for the Norwegian Public Administration Act, together with the accompanying regulations
  • a description of the intended research purpose that requires the use of the archival material must be submitted
  • the person requesting such access must have sufficient professional expertise to complete such a research project. The main requirement is that such person must hold a scientific position within a relevant professional field, or be an advanced student under the guidance of a person in a scientific position. This means, for one, that general journalism activities do not constitute grounds for exceptions from confidentiality
  • there is an obligation to consider whether granting access would entail disproportionate nuisance to other parties. Would knowing that a researcher had been allowed access to such information about them cause anyone strain?