Today’s Financial Times has, to my mind, a bit of astounding advice. In an article about the “dangers” of unguarded emails in the corporate world, it advocates organizations install “increasingly advanced software” to block embarrassing messages from leaving the corporate system.
“In addition to dirty words you can train software to look for specific trade secrets, or the names of your executives, or research projects or clients or competitors, and block those messages from ever leaving your system,” says Nancy Flynn, executive director of the ePolicy Institute, which conducts research and advises companies.
Ms Flynn says employers should be rushing to deploy this kind of software, and not just for e-mails. Blog posts and instant messages are dangerous as well. [My emphasis added.]
I think this kind of approach is so evidently bonkers, evoking a dystopian corporate world where concepts like trust and maturity are wholly absent, that I was curious to learn about the ePolicy Institute. It’s clearly the invention and device of Flynn and little more. She may well be providing valued advice to her members and customers, but I don’t see why a Financial Times journalist should see her institute as any kind of independent authority. She is a consultant on matters like email policy for companies and, it seems clear, makes her money by selling her brand of advice.
We need a “Law of the Institute” for journalists and bloggers. It’s simplicity itself to stick “institute” on a name. It may sound more impressive than “Inc” or “Associates” or “& Company”. But all too often it is a meaningless designation. Writer beware.