Employers must protect themselves from Wikileaks-style misuse of sensitive information, says law firm Mace & Jones.
Employers should put the “contractual weapons” in place to stop employees and former employees from sharing commercially sensitive information with competitors and third parties, says Mace & Jones’ Martin Edwards.
Alledgedly, US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning passed on 250,000 diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. Bradley Manning now faces a court martial and up to 52 years in prison for his alleged role in copying the cables, as well as the leak of military logs.
“This shows how easy it is now for employees to copy large amounts of important confidential information such as databases and use it for their own purposes,” says Martin Edwards. “But there are a range of measures that employers can take to prevent important information finding itself in the wrong hands.”
So, what can you do to protect your business? Martin Edwards recommends:
- First, ensure you have tailor-made contracts that reflect the nature of your businesses.
- It’s vital not to rely on standardised contracts if your’e worried about protecting confidential commercial information – you may need your own version of the “Official Secrets Act” form.
- This contract should set out in black and white what your policy is on leaking of information by employees or ex-employees, and what the punishments are.
- Ensure that any misuse of information is gross misconduct and a sackable offence, and that you will sue them.
- Make sure that if an ex-employee shares your commercially-sensitive information on joining a competitor, you can sue them and their new company for encouraging breach of contract.
- You may also want to seek a court order to prevent the communication of commercially-sensitive information to third parties, if need be.
Martin Edwards adds that there is a wide variety of commercially-sensitive information that should be protected, such as knowledge of how to make a product, finance, client information and business development plans and leads.
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