Can you keep a secret?????
If I asked you if you were careful with security, you’d no doubt nod wisely about how you always remember to lock up your house before you leave, and make sure the windows are closed. I’m sure you lock your car and keep your keys and credit cards somewhere safe. You definitely have all your computer equipment password protected!
All good things to do.
But the problem with risk is that it is all the things that you don’t think about that make you vulnerable.
During an office discussion about safety and security, we talked about the importance of not labelling files that are going to leave the office, because I don’t want anyone on the train or walking past my car seeing the names of clients we are working for. Whilst most of them wouldn’t mean much to the average person, there are a few well known entities floating around, and a few you could easily Google if you were that way inclined (or that bored for something interesting to do!)
You can take that a step further, and talk about not talking about things in public, or at least not in a way that anyone might understand. For example, when travelling to and from court on public transport, if you’re going to discuss a case with colleagues, refer to “the client” rather than the business or person by name.
Again, you may see that as obvious advice, and certainly none of my team looked at me like I was mad, but it still amazes me how much information people discuss in public about themselves personally and their businesses/employers that could be damaging. Perhaps people think that no one other than friends and family are going to be that interested in what they are saying on social media but given that proceedings have been bought against Facebook and Twitter for the use (or misuse) of personal data, it should be obvious that everything you say can be taken down and used in evidence against you.
There have also been a number of high profile court cases involving publicly available information. This includes people making claims against holiday companies alleging food poisoning, which have failed (spectacularly in some cases) when the Claimant’s own Facebook feed has been used to show how well and happy they were during the trip.
Or the personal injury cases, where people claiming ongoing health problems have been seen playing football and skiing without any sign of disability.
And even the employment tribunal proceedings where employees claims have failed due to evidence that they had lied to employers about being off sick.
It’s bad enough if your claim fails because of something outside of your control. It’s a complete waste of time and money if it fails because of something you posted yourself or someone else posted about you. Even worse, it could lead to contempt of court proceedings which is obviously far more serious.
So my advice to all those who like to talk out loud or on social media, is be careful what you say, because it could come back to bite you one day.
My advice to those employing people who might not know when to keep quiet, is to make sure they are trained and reminded of the risks, and to make sure you have an office policy on the consequences of breaching those instructions.
My advice to anyone who will listen is that with @Shivani Varma back from maternity leave, I’ve got more time to be out and about and be loud and vocal. So let me know if you’ve got time for a drink soon!
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Only vocal when we need to be!