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Caught on Camera – Be Careful What You Say and Show on Business Video Conferencing

The boom of remote workers caused by the pandemic also caused a boom in the use of video conferencing. Tools like Zoom, MS Teams, Webex and Google Hangouts became the norm and everyone calendars are now full of back-to-back meetings.

Over time, most people became comfortable with these tools, and since almost everyone is still working from home, most people also became a bit casual. Although 2020 did cause employees to build more personal relationships, the conversations on the conference calls still need to be professional.

What You See Is What You Get

There are many articles about how to create a professional setting for video conference meetings including your background, camera quality, and camera angle. Let’s discuss some of the other things your camera could catch, and remember, many of these meetings are being recorded.

First, it’s important to clear you desk of all confidential paperwork. Even if the camera angle is usually toward the person’s face, there is a risk of it moving. If the camera is on a laptop, it can easily angle down if the screen is bumped or if the person starts to walk around with the laptop itself. If the camera is external, it can fall or easily be moved.

The risk is that confidential information gets recorded by someone who should not have access to that information. Even worse, if the recording becomes public, perhaps posted to YouTube or shared on social media, then there will be a breach of an NDC or other confidentiality agreement, or possibly a HIPPA issue if the information was related to an employee.

In addition to paperwork, another risk is other people that reside in the house appearing in the background. Consider the following situations:

  1. The person is not supposed to be at that location for a variety of reasons.
  2. The person is unaware the video is on and is inappropriately dressed.
  3. The person is unaware the video is on and simply does not want to be recorded.

The risk in this case is if the recording becomes public and causes the unsuspecting person captured in the video any kind of harm, such as being fired, the liability is on the person who did not announce they were on a video conference. This may also be considered the unlawful use of name or likeness.

Did You Hear That?

The visual part of the video conference represents half the risk. When people are comfortable and casual, they can say things they would never type. Professionalism in emails, text messages, and all other documents is second nature, however, it’s easy to lose sight of this in verbal conversations.

To break the ice, some video conference meetings can start with simple chatter about the weather, which can cause people to become more friendly, making for a more productive meeting. However, the risk is the loss of professionalism. Again, a level of comfort can cause people to say things they may not otherwise say, and if it’s being recorded, it’s permanent.

The additional risk to both visual and audio faux pas is that electronic media is discoverable in a lawsuit. What you say, and do, on a recorded video conference does not stay on that video conference. Even if it does not become public, it is documentation that can be used in court.

eDiscovery rules on both a local and federal level usually include guidelines around the use of non-privileged information as it relates to the needs of the case. Additional requirements for video conferences can include separate documentation listing attendees for each meeting.

Confirm the Right Insurance Coverage

Video conference risks affect professional liability and it’s important to review the amount of coverage on the policy. Key factors required by the insurance industry include documentation of the organization’s processes and procedures for video conference calls, confirmation that employees are aware of these documents (especially remote employees), and documentation that all data security measures have been taken to reduce risk of unwanted and/or uninvited attendees.

In addition to reviewing general liability coverage, this is a great time to review cyber insurance coverage.  

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