Recording

Surreptitious Workplace Recording — and what to do about it

By January 15, 2017 No Comments
Spy pen commonly used for surreptitious workplace recording.

Spy pen commonly used for surreptitious workplace recording.

Workplace recording threats:
• Employees
• Contractors
• Visitors
• Economic Espionage Spies

Some of their workplace recording tools include: smartphones, fake key fobs, and mini voice recorders disguised as USB sticks, covert video cameras, and wireless microphones.

The Top Four Surreptitious Workplace Recording Motives

  1. Industrial Espionage – “The theft of trade secrets by the removal, copying or recording of confidential or valuable information,” as defined by Investopedia.
  2. HR Issues – One-third of employees who visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office to file discrimination complaints bring secretly made recordings. Katrina Patrick, a lawyer who represents aggrieved employees, says that more than 50 percent of the people who come to her office bring digital evidence. Some cases are settled for six figure sums. One case was in its eight year last time we checked Either way, it’s very expensive.
  3. Blackmail – Recordings force outcomes. In one reported case, three employees bugged their boss for a promotion, literally. They hid a recorder in his office and tried to blackmail him with the video footage.
  4. Sex – Covert video spy cameras, or spycams, placed in areas where there is an expectation of privacy (locker-rooms, business provided restrooms, etc.). The problem is epidemic. Inspecting these areas is now a regular part of our client’s due diligence inspections.

Tips for Management

  • Assume your discussions are being recorded.
  • Before proceeding, ask if they are recording.
  • Be professional. If you would not say it in a courtroom, don’t say it.
  • Red Flag – When an employee tries to recreate a previous conversation with you.
  • Have an independent sweep team conduct periodic due diligence debugging inspections.

Create a Workplace Recording Policy

Your organization may already have a written Workplace Recording Policy. If you do, dust it off and bring it up-to-date. If not, create one. Keep these points in mind…

  1. Clearly define the purpose of your Workplace Recording Policy…
    – to encourage an atmosphere for honest and open workplace communications,
    – to protect trade secrets, confidential and proprietary information,
    – to protect employee communications privacy.
    – to protect employee personal privacy against covert video cameras in restrooms, showers, changing rooms, etc.
  2. List the types of recordings you prohibit. (audio, video, data)
  3. Make it clear the policy covers everything business-related; on and off premises.
  4. List who may, and under what conditions, create exemptions to the policy.
  5. Define specific conditions where recording is permissible, e.g.
    – as part of the manufacturing process,
    – customer service quality control,
    – when specifically, relevant to Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Having a written Workplace Recording Policy accomplishes several things:


  • It has an immense deterrence value. Voyeurs are basically risk-adverse.
  • It provides discipline and termination leverage, should someone not be deterred.
  • It also provides your company with a 
strong defense in court, and in arbitration hearings.

If you would like some help creating a Workplace Recording Policy, contact us, we would be pleased to help you. We can also perform a Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) bug sweep to help assure your privacy.

###

Kevin D. Murray CPP, CISM, CFE is a business counterespionage consultant and TSCM specialist with over four decades of experience.

Murray Associates is an independent security consulting firm, providing eavesdropping detection and counterespionage services to business, government and at-risk individuals.

Headquartered in the New York metropolitan area, a Murray Associates team can assist you quickly, anywhere in the United States, and internationally.