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Confidentiality in Transcription

Confidentiality in Transcription

By: Kevin

4 May 2011

What is confidentiality? As the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in ISO-17799 defines it, confidentiality is "ensuring that information is accessible only to those authorized to have access" and is one of the cornerstones of information security.

An agreement called as a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) or a confidentiality agreement is signed between the people involved. Basically, this agreement outlines the people involved, defines the information which is confidential, the time frame during which this agreement is effective, etc.

The level of confidentiality requirements may vary. For example, for a student conducting interviews for a thesis, signing of a NDA to maintain the confidentiality of the interviewees may be sufficient. On the other hand, a company wishing to protect sensitive technical, commercial and/or even security information may require not only signed agreements, but physical protection against theft of such information. For this purpose, the transcription service providers may need to ensure that there is no way that any information can be copied/stolen out of their premises by incorporating physical security checks, forbidding phones with cameras, any method of duplicating material such as photocopying, printing, copying of digital format information onto other data storage sources, etc. The more sensitive the material, the more stringent the measures in place to ensure confidentiality.

Transcription companies generally have a NDA/confidentiality agreement that they are willing to sign with any person/company desirous of having an agreement in place. If the client requires a different agreement as compared to the company's usual agreement, the transcription companies are willing to sign those too.

All employees of a transcription company are usually required to sign a NDA/confidentiality agreement when they join a service provider irrespective of whether a client has specifically requested an agreement or not.

Both the legal and the health care industry have laws governing the confidentiality of information. Hence, companies who are involved in legal or medical transcription are bound by these laws.

The health care industry is governed by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for the privacy policies of patients, but that is a whole other topic which we shall discuss another day!