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Even in today’s increasingly transparent society, good communication in both personal and business transactions is predicated on the expectation of privacy. Attorney/client privilege and physician/patient confidentiality are two of the best known examples of protected communication. But in the broader arena of commerce, interactions as varied as financial consultations, contract negotiations, and recruitment efforts take place under the umbrella of confidentiality for financial and ethical reasons.
In the world of business, a breach of confidentiality can easily be used to harm a company’s reputation. For example, an executive might make a comment in a private conversation that could be misconstrued when taken out of context. A simple expression of opinion could be taken as a statement of fact, a matter of corporate policy, or even libel—with serious legal and public relations ramifications.
Every time a new form of communication has become available, unscrupulous parties have used their ability to access private information for nefarious purposes. Daniel Solove’s paper "A Brief History of Information Privacy Law" provides a fascinating overview of privacy legislation in the United States.
The fear of undue scrutiny stifles healthy discussion and debate. It is the right of an organization and those it serves to determine how and when certain types of information are made public. Keeping communication private benefits businesses by:
Both the United States and the EU have dozens of statutes on the books to protect business data and communication. However, these regulations often fail to adequately protect businesses and individuals. Businesses should proactively take additional administrative, legal, procedural, and technological steps to safeguard their company communications at all times.
In our view one of the best decisions businesses can make is to ensure that your data is stored in a jurisdiction that will adequately protect it.
What steps are you taking to protect your online communication?