There are many reasons why it is important to maintain confidentiality, including legal restrictions, ethical requirements and specific contractual agreements between parties such as a business and its employees or a business and its clients. Confidentiality is an important topic across many different professional fields, including in medicine, finance, business, law, education, government, counseling and technology. In some cases, people may be fined, sued or even subject to legal punishments such as incarceration if confidentiality is breached, another reason why it is important to keep confidential information safe and private.
The ethical reasons why confidentiality must be kept may be less potentially damaging, but are equally as important as legal reasons. For example, although there are strong laws that maintain privacy between a person and his or her doctor, it would be ethically wrong for a doctor to gossip about treatment that his or her patient is receiving because that information may be damaging to the patient's personal or professional life. Financial and business information that is designated as confidential should be kept private not only because a lack of information security may lead to crimes, such as monetary theft but also because businesses often need to develop new products or initiatives in secret in order to ensure their idea isn't poached by another business.