Wednesday, 4 February 2015

the potential pitfalls of online meetings in the area of consent and confidentiality

Last Friday I took part in an online meeting with ISPS-US hosted by Ron Unger, therapist and chair of the education committee.  The presentation was on the Bay Area Mandala Project, California, and it was an interesting talk with information and personal stories from members of the project.

However I hadn't been informed that the meeting was being recorded, including the question time at the end.  And I got a bit of a shock on seeing the recording promoted online yesterday through Facebook, including the names of all the participants taking part and those of us at the end who made a comment.

I happened to come upon this by accident and hadn't been informed by anyone at ISPS-US that my details and voice would be going out for public viewing, without my consent.  I then started a conversation with some of the people involved, asking for the participant details to be removed because we hadn't been asked.

It was a matter of confidentiality and consent, to my mind.  I was very unhappy that I hadn't been consulted before my name went out into the public domain, linked to this meeting.  After a long exchange of Emails and on Facebook, which left me feeling disempowered and distressed, I eventually Emailed the President of the ISPS-US saying: "please remove my name and voice from the ISPS-US recording 30 January 2015".

I got a response from the President:

"The question and answer portion of the video has been removed in its entirety. I apologize for the anguish that this has caused. While sharing your own story in your own words is empowering, having your words out in the internet without your explicit consent is definitely not. Given the culture of sharing educational online videos, we may have failed to consider the potentially personal information that might be revealed by audience participants. The educational and executive committees are reviewing strategies to ensure that webinars can be shared appropriately, with the consent of all involved. While it is important to remember that all online activities are potentially public, it is our responsibility to be more explicit with potential participants regarding future uses of webinars and other online educational activities. The educational and executive committees are reviewing strategies to ensure that webinars can be shared appropriately, with the consent of all involved. Thank you for alerting us to this issue."

I was relieved to hear it. 


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