By Abby Chin and Molly Crabtree
It is simple enough: press record and you can easily share your internal video conference call, re-watch it later, or forget it and move on. You move on until you receive a discovery request or a subpoena for information if the company is sued. Now, your internal video call is discoverable and may be seen by those outside your intended viewership.
With the current COVID-19 climate and businesses turning to video conferences to maintain their operations, it is time to take a step back and think twice before hitting “record.” Taking these steps may not only help protect your company’s information, but limit costly discovery should requests be made for this information. Consider the following:
Would you record the meeting if it was held in person?
You probably were not recording board of directors or management meetings before COVID-19. Instead of recording the meetings, continue to keep meeting minutes per usual. Internal team meetings are no different. If follow-up notes are necessary, instruct an employee to keep notes in their usual course and circulate after.
Why do you want to record the meeting?
There may be a valid reason to record a video call, such as trainings or educational programs. If you are going to record, put your participants on notice in the meeting invitation and remind them at the start. This puts all participants on the same page about the nature of the call and the possibility that it will be viewed by others in the future.
Can you legally record the meeting?
Different state laws require different levels, from one party to all parties and forms of consent. Receiving proper consent becomes even trickier with multi-state calls, as jurisdictions will vary on which law applies. Be sure to check your jurisdiction for the applicable consent requirements, and, if you plan on recording a meeting with multi-state participants, check requirements for the other jurisdictions as well.
Are your employees recording meetings?
It is important to inform your employees of the risks associated with recording video calls and any policies your company has in place regarding the same. An informed workforce is another check-point when securing the company’s information and preventing needless recordings.
Are you and your employees following other document management policies?
Remind yourself and employees of the company’s policies on document retention, personal device usage, social media and privacy. Employees who are texting about work, recording video calls, or creating chat strings within such calls can cause headaches when trying to find the information, leading to expensive collection and review processes when responding to discovery requests. You will find yourself with even more headaches if employees are using “private” functions of social media applications for work-related communications, as these apps can remove private restrictions and allow review of information.
In all, before you find yourself in an uncomfortable spot months from now when a request comes through the door, consider the following when putting in place policies for recorded video meetings and employee device usage at-home:
- If you decide to record meetings, do you have clear guidelines on what meetings to record?
- Who should record the meeting to avoid multiple copies?
- Where should a recording or work-related communication on a personal device be stored?
- How long should items be stored?
- If an employee is using personal devices, is the information stored in a place the company could, and should, access if needed?
- How will you track compliance with the company’s policies?
- How will you educate your employees on compliance with the policies?
Information about COVID-19 and its impact on local, state and federal levels is changing rapidly. This article may not reflect updates to news, executive orders, legislation and regulations made after its publication date. Visit our COVID-19 resource page to find the most current information.