The Linguist

The Linguist 55,3

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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12 The Linguist Vol/55 No/3 2016 FEATURES When it comes to confidentiality, it isn't always clear what interpreters' responsibilities are, what steps they need to take, or what should happen when confidentiality is breached, says Sue Leschen I come across confidentiality-related issues on a regular basis, both as a freelance interpreter and translator, and also via the professional conduct committees of the spoken and signed language interpreters' and translators' professional conduct committees of which I am a member. However, while confidentiality is a significant aspect of the everyday working life of interpreters and translators, it seems to receive only scant attention on initial and CPD (continuing professional development) training courses. The codes of practice of two of our largest UK membership organisations, the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), both refer to "confidentiality" and "confidential information". However, these terms are not actually defined in the codes. Likewise, the codes fail to clarify how members should "take responsibility" for confidentiality as regards any work (either in full or in part) delegated or subcontracted to a colleague(s). Elsewhere, definitions of "confidentiality" and "confidential information", such as those in the Oxford English Dictionary, tend to echo themes of secrecy, privacy, trust, loyalty and security. In ITI's code "privileged information" seems to be used interchangeably with "confidential information", and is usually used in the context of solicitor-client consultations. However, this "privilege" is generally thought to apply only to the solicitor and client in such contexts, and not to the interpreter who hears and/or interprets the "privileged information". The interpreter's duty of confidentiality stems from duties laid down in the codes of client or even whether the end-client has authorised the subcontracting. Subcontractors may want to ask their contractor colleagues some pointed questions here. Disclosure required by law Clause 6.5 of the CIOL Code urges members to "take all reasonable precautions to keep clients' and/or employees' information and material confidential and secure (except where disclosure is required by law)". This requirement applies to both part and whole jobs subcontracted to colleagues. Again, an NDA with the subcontractor would seem to be best practice here. Other than that how can we possibly police a colleague's work environment, procedures and commitment as regards maintaining confidentiality of any documents we send them? These days hardly anyone works exclusively in relatively secure settings, such as home offices; most of us also work on the move, yet the duty of confidentiality applies to all of the places where we work. Insecure places include trains, waiting rooms and cafés. The minefield of confidentiality conduct of the professional organisations of which s/he is a member and/or from clients' codes of conduct which s/he may have been required to sign in order to get the job. Business-savvy interpreters will also have their own terms and conditions regarding inter alia confidentiality, which they ask their clients to sign. So, an interpreter working in solicitor-client consultations is probably bound by different (albeit similar) duties to those of the solicitor for whom s/he interprets – we are almost singing from the same hymn sheet, but not quite. Responsibility for subcontractors Ensuring that subcontractors respect the duty of confidentiality is a big ask. Probably the most that we can do is require colleagues to whom we subcontract and/or delegate work to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with us. This will probably be in addition to the NDA that our client has asked us to sign. Hopefully the client's NDA will also include a clause authorising us to subcontract work. If it does, the client's NDA may require any subcontractors to be named. In my experience, many NDAs run to 10 or more pages (20 is not uncommon!) and thus are often hurriedly signed – but not actually read – by interpreters and translators. To make matters worse, it is common practice in our industry for colleagues to subcontract and/or delegate work which they consider to be onerous (usually due to technical complexity or volume, or both) without their clients' knowledge or permission. Subcontractors may not be aware of the identity of the end- Should the interpreter breach confidentiality by informing the police and risk possible legal repercussions?

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