Confidentiality Agreements

Confidentiality agreements (sometimes called nondisclosure agreements) are contractual arrangements between two or more parties to keep information private, without external disclosure to others. Sometimes confidentiality agreements are necessary for the conduct of business. But sometimes confidentiality agreements work against broader social interests. The main business ethics concerns posed by confidentiality agreements focus on the intent of maintaining confidentiality, and thus, ethical judgments about them are by necessity context specific.

What Is the Intent of Confidentiality?

Often, confidentiality is necessary for a business transaction—for example, a merger that is being negotiated between companies—or for a new business idea that is being developed by a company or a partnership. A confidentiality agreement in such cases ensures that nonpublic information that would be harmful to that legitimate business activity ...

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