I’m on the train to Ottawa, going to listen tomorrow to the Supreme Court hearing in Kerr v. Danier Leather along with the student editors of The CourtSee Simon Archer’s excellent summary of the facts and issues on The Court. — a “school outing” of the grown-up sort. A man behind me begins talking on his cell phone in that kind of projecting voice one uses for people far away even though they’re as close as your own ears in reality virtuality. I can’t help eavesdropping. Besides I’m curious because of some half caught words. Gradually it becomes clear to me that he’s a counsel (or part of the support team) who’s going to appear in the SCC tomorrow. He’s talking to his office, requesting a particular document, explaining its significance and so forth. Now, nothing earth-shaking gets revealed — but then I’m as far from being a securities lawyer as it is possible to be and wouldn’t really know if the earth did move. Still and all, this talk is indiscreet and incautious, and a problem for everyone everywhere ever since they took the doors off the phone booths, so to speak. Tais-toi.


  1. You’d be surprised how often I have understood a good part of a supposedly confidential conversation I have overheard on the streetcar and even in elevators. Some people are so self-absorbed they don’t realize there are others around who may know what they are talking about. I think it is a good idea for firms to have a rule regarding talking about client work outside the office.

  2. This problem of supposedly confidential communications being expressed in front of the whole world is a subject of discussion in competitive intelligence circles. There is the ethical dilemma for the librarian/CI professional who is sitting on an airplane en route to the CALL conference and happens to notice that the person sitting beside them has their laptop open with a confidential document on the screen that impacts directly on the librarian’s firm. Do you crane your neck in order to read what’s on the screen, chat the person up in the hope of learning more, or go back to reading your conference programme?

    Many organizations insist on having employees sign codes of conduct that include not discussing confidential situations outside the office. But employees don’t seem to realize that laptops and cell phones fall under this prohibition.