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Home > “Wacky Leaks: The Looming Confidentiality Crisis and Corporate Governance

“Wacky Leaks: The Looming Confidentiality Crisis and Corporate Governance

Last year, I went back to school, investing time to graduate from the University of Toronto – Rotman Directors Education Program. This is part of my longer term plan to provide my insight and guidance to organizations and not-for-profits on technology and strategy issues as  Independent Corporate Directory.

Read the article, "Wacky Leaks: The Looming Confidentiality Crisis" as it originally appeared in the Institute of Corporate Directors Register

I’m thrilled to have co-authored and have had an article published in the Institute of Corporate Directors Register publication. Entitled “Wacky Leaks: Understanding the Looming Confidientiality Crisis,” with Jim Brown, a well known expert on corporate governance issues.

The article takes a look at the new culture of open communications and its impact on the necessity for corporate boards to often work with an expectation of privacy.

Clearly, we’ve got a significant challenge here as we go forward into the future, and corporate boards must carefully think through the impact of a culture of open communications upon the tradition of privacy. It will be a tricky balancing act.

A few excerpts:

Over the last few months, the issue of confidentiality of information has risen to the forefront in the news media, with a constant barrage of stories concerning the intentional or unintentional leaking of previously private information. The most obvious case – Wikileaks – has challenged many long-standing traditions with respect to the sanctity of privileged communications.

But Wikileaks is only the tip of the iceberg in what is a new cultural demand for transparency, and a challenge to longstanding traditions of confidentiality.

This drift threatens boards at every level. If unchecked, it could compromise even the most scrupulous of companies and undermine every corporation’s rights to hold sensitive information in private.

These are only a few examples of what is emerging as a major cultural shift; our traditional notions of confidentiality face new challenges every day. In late 2010, Yahoo! announced at a private meeting of staff that a series of layoffs was coming; within seconds this information was being transmitted and shared on social networks such as Twitter. so much for privacy!

What’s going on here, and what does it mean for corporate directors? Clearly, many in the younger generation seem to have entirely different attitudes when it comes to the privacy of information. Raised in a maelstrom of connectivity, they live in a world in which they are fully prepared to share each and every moment of their daily lives.

This article originally appeared in the Director Journal, a publication of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD).

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