Confidentiality laws are intended to protect information from those who should not see it. But in some cases, these laws can be waived, as can the rights attached to them. In other words, you may be compelled to testify or to share information that is otherwise considered confidential. It may even be in breach of your contract with another party, and in that case, you are liable even though the court compels obedience.
The reason that the court can compel obedience in certain situations is because you have generally done something wrong. Most confidentiality laws require that only the individuals necessary to the investigation be present and hear the information. With the increased availability of file-sharing options, the ways that a business or individual can lose that protection of confidentiality have increased as well. Here are some things you need to remember to keep your files safe
Only Send to the People Who Must Know
In many states, you can waive your rights to confidentiality through including additional more people in a confidential conversation than are necessary. When it comes to file sharing, confidentiality may be breached, and the rights waived, when you share the files or send the files to individuals who were not necessary to the project.
In other words, if you decide to send big files that include everything in your business to the company file-sharing service, and did not distinguish between the confidential information, you may have waived your confidentiality. You would have to make sure that all of the confidential information is separate, and only shared with the individuals who are necessary to it.
Most courts refuse to accept that all the employees in a business have to be included unless you can state that everyone did work on the project and needed the information. The burden of proof is on you, but generally, it only has to be proven beyond a preponderance of the evidence. This means that you only have to show that it’s more likely than not.
Encrypt All Files
You must also recognize that businesses and individuals who intend to keep information confidential should be allowed to keep it confidential so long as they took the necessary steps to maintain secrecy. When it comes to file sharing, this means that you must encrypt all confidential files. It’s not enough to rely on the automatic encryption that most file–haring services offer. Instead, you must specifically encrypt the confidential documents.
The reasoning behind this additional requirement is that when the document is sent to the file-sharing service, it can be intercepted. The automatic encryption that these services include does not take effect until the file has been received. Hackers and other individuals can get in and steal that information. You may be able to lessen your liability if you can prove that confidentiality was breached because of an illegal act, but it will not remove it. In most cases, this also follows the preponderance of the evidence rule.