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J Law Med. 2003 May;10(4):410-34.

Privacy and research involving humans.

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Law Faculty, Building 12, Monash University, Vic 3800, Australia.


Human research ethics committees in Australia are required to consider compliance with privacy law as an element of the ethics of research. Recent legislation has introduced federal private sector privacy protection, as well as privacy protection at State and Territory levels. In Victoria, which is used as an example in this article, State privacy legislation covers public sector information and health records. This article considers the implications for research involving human participants and for ethics committees of the new privacy regimes. Although privacy law is a potential barrier to research about humans, the need for exceptions has been dealt with effectively in the context of medical or health research. However, privacy law and its chilling effect could potentially be a serious impediment to some forms of non-health-related research, such as social and socio-legal research.

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