Monday, May 14, 2007

Confidentiality Policy: Restatement

During this month, there has been increased activity in my employment search, and it is more likely that I could be re-entering the conventional mainframe employment market sometimes this spring or summer.

I believe that it is most likely that such an opportunity would be an hourly job as an individual contributor, although variations are conceivable.

I do cover a huge variety of topics on my blogs and websites, because I believe that issues are interrelated. I want to re-iterate, however, that I always respect the legal and ethical requirements for respect for confidentiality of information that I may come across in the workplace. Confidential information includes but is not limited to trade secrets, securities related information, personnel matters, names and personal or financial matters of individual stakeholders who are not public figures, and day to day matters of a workplace that would normally remain private.

Most information in a typical large commercial information technology shop is mundane, and would not be of public interest. Normally I will not identify employers or clients on my own sites except in a conventional way on a conventional resume.

Of course, I also always honor the requirement that computer resources of an employer or of its clients be used for legitimate business purposes only.

As a practical matter, I would expect the time available to maintain my own sites to be less, and I would expect to spend more of my own resources to be spent on trying to agent my novels or screenplay scripts or develop the public policy database idea that I have discussed in other postings. However, when employed full time before in Minnesota (most of the time from 1997-2003) I was able to maintain my own sites regularly. I would expect to maintain wireless and other appropriate software on my own laptops in order to maintain the ability to update my sites and blogs while on the road. I will make sure that appropriate contact information is maintained on WHOIS. With more income, I may well make considerable progress in making my own film or video on my materials, although much of that material might remain off-line.

It is important to note that right now, I am talking about individual contributor work. My own practice is that, if I were to take a position requiring direct reports, my speaking in public for the company, or making decisions that affect stakeholders, I would have to remove all of my materials from the public Internet (unless there were additional special circumstances). I am not expecting this to happen at this time. There are some possible scenarios where the sites remain up but where I would not continue updating them. There are also techniques to restrict access of sites to whitelists, but I do not anticipate needing to use these at this time. I may decide that a few specific items should be removed from my sites because of contextual issues that they could present. It is possible that at some point in the future (and this could after some time in a particular job paying income), I could consider removing or closing access to much of my material if it fits my own long term plans to do so (such as spending more efforts on becoming agented). It is worthy of note that, to continue my claim on the use of the name, I will need to keep considerable content accessible to the public, with a paradigm of intellectual objectivity.

Finally, I am aware of a couple of other possibilities. I do not go to work for companies in order to “expose” them; I do not accept positions in arrangements known to be illegal or unethical. And I am certainly aware of the “God punishes sinners” issue: that a web publisher must be careful with context, that his or her postings would not be interpreted as having some other meaning that compromises confidentiality. (The phrase was used on “Days of our Lives” when the character Belle gives Shawn hidden instructions as to how to locate her baby by GPS).

As for technical discussions on blogs, I consider it Okay to discuss programming or technology techniques in a generic way (with respect to any language or software like DB2, CICS, etc) with comments that relate to best practices as accepted industry wide (as opposed to company-specific or examination-specific) and knowledge that consultation professionals should normally have in the workplace to do their jobs.

In any employment situation, I expect to retain full intellectual property ownership (as to royalties and advertising revenues) for any of my own writings, as is normally understood in copyright law. I expect to control my own right of publicity (and not turn it over to a “reputation defense” firm). I am aware of some situations that sound problematic (such as insurance companies not allowing agents to have outside income, or companies wanting reputation or public relations firms manage their associates public presence) and in individual contributor jobs these arrangements would not be acceptable.

In some cases, I might ask an employer to sign an intellectual property and publicity agreement as part of a contract. A typical possible agreement form (which may be rewritten, as this dates back to 1999) is here:

My persistence policy is explained more at this link.

The suggested employer blogging policy (2004) is at this link.

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