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  1. Total nondisclosure and absolute confidentiality is the bedrock of working with other people's recordings for transcription.  Whether it is original academic research in the form of qualitative interviews or a public tribunal or inquiry when it goes into private session or PACE* interviews or counselling sessions.  Well, anything whether in the public or private domain, my standard is I'm not discussing what I'm listening to.

    Woke up this morning, browsing my phone, and came across this:

    Confidentiality image

    The person says they aren't going to mention where they got this work but by 'platform' they mean the kind of online transcription services where you just upload your stuff and someone somewhere transcribes it. 

    This is a cheap** way of getting volumes of data transcribed, but please don't use them for anything that could be remotely sensitive or compromise the personal data of the people involved. 

    I am sure this transcriber would never dream of revealing the content of the interview or the identity of the people.  You should know though that these online transcription providers do not check who the people are working for them. Who knows what they can do with that information?

    I am also sure that the person who wanted these transcriptions had ensured confidentiality to the people being recorded.  Well, that has been thoroughly broken by putting the recording on an online platform for anyone to listen to who happens to pick up the job.

    Don't put your sensitive data on online transcription platforms.  Instead, use someone who takes confidentiality as the foundation upon which their business operates.  Get them to sign separate NDAs even. 

    Security of personal data is priceless.  Don't put it 'out there' for anyone to listen to and possibly reveal its content and the identity of the participants.

    You really don't know who is listening to your recordings if you use online transcription companies.


    *PACE interviews are conducted under the remit of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

    **I've addressed this before regarding 'ethics' but you can't be cheap with sensitive information

  2. Well, obviously Environmental, Social and Governance.  But what does it really stand for?  In the broadest sense 'ethics' might be the closest meaning – as in really meaning something – and a company's ethics is becoming more and more important both to the people working in that organisation but also to its clients, customers and consumers.

    Transcription is a notriously underpaid trade despite the skill people need to be able to perform the job with accuracy – yet speed – and faithfulness to the words spoken – yet making what the transcript says intelligible.

    Many transcription companies don't value their transcribers appropriately. Obviously they value them as a resource but the value they set on their work, as in the pay they give them, does not accurately reflect what is involved, and increasinly what would amount to a fair wage.  A company may charge you, the customer, £1.20 plus VAT per audio minute but only give 60p to the person who did the work.

    In an age of digital simplicity, the job of transferring files, assuring quality and getting the job done does not need the person in the middle.  If you want to increase your ESG standing with your colleagues, clients and customers, consider going direct to an independent transcriber and let people know about it, write it into your methdology, incorporate it into your project planning.

    If ESG is to really mean something, then little steps like this can make a huge difference to your organisation or business, but also for those working to help you to get your job done.

    Find out about transcription rates for work done by Sound Words.