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Breach Of Confidentiality – Social Networking In The Workplace

We are all aware that it is standard practice to sign a Confidentiality Agreement as well as a Non-Disclosure Agreement at some point in the hiring process. This is not something that should be taken lightly, simply because it has become commonplace to sign-off on these documents.

These agreements are binding and legal contracts between you and your firm, and as such, your firm has every right to take whatever actions it deems appropriate, should a breach be found.

These actions could lead to termination, and possible legal action, which of course we have witnessed particularly in Canada and the US over recent years.

I have been privy to confidential conversations that were not appropriate to discuss in crowded public locations, such as restaurants and kiosks on numerous occasions.

Examples of these ‘chats’ include complaining openly about a superior or client by name, and ‘confidential’ contractual information regarding ‘monetary’ aspects of certain open, pending, or closed projects.

I have previously stressed the importance of maintaining your integrity and keeping confidential company matters out of your conversations to protect your firm, as well as yourself and potentially, your job.

We have also addressed the issues of ‘security’ and ‘dark monitor covers’ to keep confidential documents indistinguishable and ‘locked down’ from curious eyes.

With respect to confidential matters, this brings to the forefront the question of the employee’s use of Social Networking sites in the workplace. What are the rights of the employee, and where is it advisable or permissible for the firm to draw the line?

Recently, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada ( the ‘OPC’) issued a ‘Fact Sheet’ on the issues of ‘Privacy and Social Networking in the Workplace’ addressing the need for organizations to write policies with respect to employee use of such networks, as well as how the monitoring and collection of employee data could be carried out.

An excerpt from the OPC Blog states the following:

Our fact sheet takes steps to discuss how employees and organizations should take a considered approach to their use of social networks – as an organization seeking to capitalize on a new form or communication, and as an employer sensitive to the privacy rights of its employees. In particular, we suggest that organizations establish a policy explaining how they might collect information about existing or prospective employees participating in online social networks.

For your convenience, the OPC Fact Sheet is located at the link below:

http://priv.gc.ca/fs-fi/02_05_d_41_sn_e.cfm

The OPC ‘Blog’ is located at the link below:


http://blog.privcom.gc.ca/index.php/2009/05/25/need-for-an-organizational-policy-on-online-social-networking/

Social Networking And Reputational Risk In The Workplace- Deloitte

http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=social%20networking%20in%20the%20workplace&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA

Is Social Networking in the Workplace a Smart Business Strategy?, The Financial Post

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpposted/archive/2009/02/15/social-networking-in-the-workplace-a-smart-business-strategy.aspx