Protecting Yourself?

In the past weeks, there have been several items that indicate a continuing shift in concepts of privacy, which of course impact competitive intelligence by making it easier (in theory) to develop data and harder to keep it from our competitors:

  • Hammacher Schlemmer’s catalog now offers a watch which can take digital photos and even movies. For corporate security staff, this adds another problem. For years, many facilities barred bringing in cameras, to avoid pictures being taken of processes, products, or even posted documents (you would be surprised how many plants have “secret” formulas and passwords posted on the wall). Then, with the addition of cameras to smart phones, they tried collecting these phones. Of course, some corporate security operations are already on the watch for Google’s Glass. Now, do they have to take our watches? How about just not allowing employees to take third parties into areas where there are sensitive machines and the like?
  • There are continuing efforts from financial regulators to make ownership more transparent – read making it easier to find and tax money – both legitimate and criminal. There are already pressures on the US to force the states to collect and provide beneficial ownership information on businesses of all forms (usually not collected by most states), and on other ownership forms, such as trusts. Undoubtedly it will be fought by tax professionals (as well as criminal defense lawyers), but it is probably coming, slowly.
  • In the December 2013 issue of Entrepreneur, the “Ethics Coach” column dealt with competitive sensitive information and your employees. The common message was to treat employees fairly – thus creating a better protection for this information than can be created by agreements and policies. That says a lot about the failure of traditional approaches.

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