Technology has fundamentally changed the way business information is stored and shared. For instance, smart phones have given the capacity to access computer systems and to retain and share information to a much greater extent than would have been possible in the past. Particularly after termination of employment, this has led to many claims by employers against former employees alleging misuse of confidential business information.
The first issue is always to determine whether particular information should be considered to be confidential or not. That involves consideration of a wide range of factors including –
- The extent to which the information was generally known outside the business;
- The value of the information to potential competitors;
- The amount of money or effort expended in developing the information;
- The ease or difficulty with which the information could be properly acquired or duplicated by others;
- The measures taken to guard the secrecy of the information;
- Whether it was clearly made known to the employee that the material was confidential; and
- The extent to which the information can be readily identified.
There are many grey areas in assessing whether information is in fact confidential or not but good business practice should involve any business controlling its information by –
- Adopting a “need to know” level of security to access information. Most modern computer systems have the ability to set differing levels of access to information depending upon the job description or seniority of employees seeking to access information;
- Clearly designating that particular information is confidential and the perceived consequences of that information being disclosed; and
- Requiring employees to enter into confidentiality undertakings preferably before they are able to access confidential information.
At Everingham Solomons, we have the experience and expertise to assist you with all your business documentation including confidentiality undertakings and if necessary, with legal proceedings to protect confidential business information because Helping You is Our Business.
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