Scrolling down through the stories in a court reporting industry Facebook page, I came across some dialogue between court reporters about depositions being offered at an extremely low cost with the use of only audio being used to create a transcript, no stenographer or human court reporter. Reading the comments of court reporters, there were the usual problems cited of the difficulty transcribing from a wav file and providing an accurate transcript. I started thinking about the private information that comes out at every deposition and arbitration, people’s home addresses, everywhere they had ever worked, family members’ names, medication the witness is currently taking, bank account numbers… The list goes on and on.
Now, let’s think about the scenario in which someone whose business plan is to audio record a legal proceeding and send the audio files offshore for transcription.
In doing some research, I found a paper written by Mira Sahny and Eric Syu, “Data Security in Offshore Outsourcing.” The paper refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). As the paper states, “Most importantly, HIPPA contained privacy provisions that came into effect on April 14, 2003. Known as the ‘Privacy Rule,’ these provisions collectively specify federal standards for the protection of individually identifiably health information. The Privacy Rule preempts any weaker local, state, or federal privacy law.” If a company is found not to be in compliance with HIPAA, there are civil money penalties and criminal penalties.
The paper also talks about “The Financial Modernization Act of 1999 protects personal financial information.” The Financial Modernization Act is applicable to banks and credit card company and protecting their clients’ financial information.
I believe having a court reporter who is an “Officer of the Court” as the guardian of the record being responsible for protecting the privacy of the transcript is a best practice for the consumers, litigators and their clients.