How many times have you needed to send a large file to someone else? Did their email server allow you to email it? If that person was on AOL, the answer would clearly be “NO.”
Today’s internet brings a plethora of solutions for this problem. Many file transfer services have cropped up, allowing you to send a large file to anyone with an email address, via the file host’s servers. One such service, YouSendIt! was just featured as a solution for lawyers.
It’s high time that we ask: what ethical considerations are involved in using a service like this?
The most important question seems to be whether any confidential data that you send via these services will remain confidential. At the very least, what steps should lawyers take to attempt to ensure confidentiality?
Perhaps this is like entrusting your client’s private information to a random guy with a bike, in the hopes that he will carry it across town for you. Maybe the messenger will reliably transport your files, but will he peek at them? Did you even try to ensure that he won’t?
YouSendIt! expressly provides on its main page (where you upload a file and input recipient info) “By clicking on the ‘Send it’ button, you agree to YouSendIt’s Terms of Service.” A link below asks, “Need secure transfers?” Nowhere on the page does it mention privacy or confidentiality.
File Transfer Security
We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you at our site. Files stored for delivery are only accessible by YouSendIt and through the clickable link generated for your recipient. All files stored for delivery are deleted when they expire.
Did you see where it said “we will not abuse your data ourselves?” I think not. They are going to “protect” it, but then they specifically say that they can access it. I wonder what that means…
In the end, all I’m urging is caution. Will using YouSendIt! get you disbarred?
No. I’m not an attorney, so I can’t give you legal advice. Just be cautious when entrusting confidential information to anyone, especially internet-based services.
[tags]legal andrew, yousendit, file transfer, attorney, lawyer[/tags]
Get more legal tips