When we moved to conducting all meetings on conference call at the start of the pandemic

Is your conference call software working out if you're planning to overthrow the president?

When we moved to conducting all meetings on conference call at the start of the pandemic, many of us were focused on just making sure our microphone was switched on and off at the right moment. When these meetings that were once face-to-face, doing things digitally did bring in a host of new ethics issues. The same technology that turned a lawyer in Texas into an adorable kitten can do so much more.  

Microsoft Teams has recently updated their ethics statement with the reassurance that they will not be expression recognizing algorithms over video calls. We can rest assured the machines won’t be reporting back to our bosses on the people who look unreasonably bored in those meetings. Of course, that does not mean that a company could, theoretically, run their own analysis over any recordings.

There are a host of other concerns though. If you work in the finance sector or in legal work, you are required to block or at least limit communication between particular groups. Businesses have a legal obligation to protect insider information that could be used for illegal trading, and a duty of confidentiality. This has led to the setting up of informational barriers or ethics walls that block workers from searching for an linking up with others outside of the group.

There are some more obvious steps to take to ensure confidentiality.

  • Don’t have a window open on your computer that contains any kind of confidential information. There is a risk that you might share it, and your audience has plenty of time to pause a video recording and read it.
  • Check your surroundings and make sure there is nothing visible behind you that could give away plans.
  • Don’t record or capture anyone’s image without obtaining agreement from all participants first.


How AI might improve conference calling

We all know that the filters on Zoom are our best friend. On a positive note – other new AI is coming that might actually improve the experience of online meetings. Speech recognition will make meetings more accessible for a large number of users. The technology is not just useful for those with hearing difficulties, but a lot of people who are attending a meeting in a second or third language may find it easier to follow the subtitles than to listen. Zoom are also introducing a new ‘highlights’ feature, which will allow users to select key words of interest and view a reel of just those sections. This has the potential to make video recordings a fantastic, searchable resource.

If you would like to add video conferencing ethics guidelines to your company ethics policy, see our tips on the link below.

Checklist for an Organization