Preserving Confidential Information and Trade Secrets
Through Monitoring and Preserving Evidence
“U.S. Is Secretly Collecting Records of Verizon Calls.” “NSA Chief Defends Surveillance Programs.” “Working from Home? Boss May Still Be Peeking Over Your Shoulder.” Recent headlines related to spying, monitoring and surveillance - in government, media, and business alike - abound. We cannot - and should not - avoid the issue. After all, we live in a time where people have access to the world at their fingertips. Data is neither easy to control nor difficult to transmit globally in seconds. In the workplace, this means employees can access confidential information and send it to themselves, competitors or the world at large (think Wikileaks or the more recent NSA/Edward Snowden leak) before an employer knows what happened, let alone consider who is responsible. As a business leader, you need to protect your organization’s secrets from improper use and theft through means that previously were unimaginable.
Clearly, just by looking at today’s headlines, monitoring employees’ emails and internet use is a touchy subject, and can cause legal headaches for employers if not done right. And while technology makes the job easier, it also complicates the matter, particularly with regard to social media, a moving target whose contours are still being formed by courts and legislatures. Thus, employers need to make certain preparations before monitoring employees and ensure the monitoring efforts are within appropriate bounds; otherwise, you’re risking potential lawsuits, regulatory actions or bad publicity, if not all three.
The best approach for protecting confidential information is to be proactive and to create, implement and reinforce appropriate policies. No system is fail-safe, especially as technology continues to evolve so rapidly. But if you keep your eyes and ears open, and adapt policies and strategies accordingly, the risk your organization’s “secrets” becoming global knowledge can be minimized.
This article appeared in the June 2013 issue of President & CEO.