• Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

    By • Nov 11th, 2009 • Category: Administration, Latest, Layoffs at Deloitte (And Others), Pure Content, Your Career

    Last week was a very busy and very difficult week at re: The Auditors HQ. However, those of you who lost your jobs at PwC and other firms, or those who were left behind with survivor’s guilt, faced much tougher challenges.

    Yes.

    Look to your left, look to your right. You’re still there, but it’s highly likely that one of your colleagues will not be there three months from now. Not by choice. And not because anyone at PwC or any other firm is a “loser.”

    Well, maybe there are some “losers”, but you’ll have to go back to my posts for that discussion.

    The events of last week, including those that occurred in the world around us, have prompted me to formalize my Comments Policy and Privacy Policy/Terms of Use. These policies, to be honest, were always my standard operating procedure, but given the heightened and constant nature of the threats all around us, it’s time to commit them to print. I want you to know what they are, so you can act accordingly both on and off the site.

    I started to see increased traffic on Tuesday of last week, after the blog post describing PwC Advisory’s planned staff cuts was posted Monday night. There was a considerable traffic increase over the typical run rate on Tuesday and Wednesday and then that rate doubled on Thursday and stayed at that level on Friday as actual cuts started to be reported both offline and online. I heard from multiple sources that the cuts were accelerated because of the blog post, which clearly upset some.

    I also started to see more negative comments – about my decision to post the information, about my choice of visuals (which I now deeply regret in light of the Ft. Hood and Orlando incidents) and about me personally. I am a pretty good sport, but I will tell you… I saw some very ugly, very vulgar, very obscene and, in some cases, physically threatening comments on Thursday and Friday.

    That had never happened before.

    The biggest shock was that some of the most offensive comments were posted from the PwC network. When you visit this site, the web servers at our hosting service automatically recognize your domain name and IP address. If you are accessing the site from your company or firm network, the domain name and IP address will reveal nothing personal about you to me other than the IP address that you accessed the site from. But that IP address may be identified to me with a host or corporate name and location. It may be possible to obtain more information about users. That information is typically not accessible other than through legal means, but that is always a potential.

    Late last Friday night, I accidentally posted an anonymous comment that made threats to PwC employees. Once notified of my mistake via another comment on Saturday morning, I immediately deleted that comment, issued an apology, then later deleted the notification and my apology, since the notification comment repeated the threatening words that the original poster did.

    Later Saturday, I received a call from the Chief Information Security Officer of PwC US. In the spirit of cooperation, I agreed to provide PwC with the details I had for the comment that he felt threatened PwC employees. I also solicited his assistance in addressing the offensive and threatening comments that came from the PwC network.

    I did this because I reserve the right to disclose user information to appropriate parties if I feel it will help protect and defend the person, rights, or property of re: The Auditors employees, any visitors to the re: The Auditors website or a company or individual that may legitimately feel threatened by anything posted on the site.

    I will also disclose information to appropriate parties when, in good-faith, I believe that such action is necessary to comply with the law or to comply with a legal process served on re: The Auditors, to enforce this Privacy Policy or to enforce the re: The Auditors website Terms of Use.

    I will also help identify persons who may be violating the law or the Terms of Use of re: The Auditors website; and I will cooperate with the investigations of any alleged illegal activities.

    You should keep in mind that when you access the internet through your company or firm network or a public network or a paid ISP, you may be subject to monitoring or disclosure of your activities to law enforcement or others if you engage in illegal or threatening activities or violate your employer’s policies, subject to local laws and regulations.

    I do actively not solicit tips or ask or encourage you to disclose confidential information or to violate any legal agreements that you are party to. I may, from time to time ask friends, acquaintances, contacts, and subject matter experts for verification, validation or elaboration of information I have obtained from public sources or that is based on my own experience. You must, of course, take responsibility for any information you provide to me or anyone else and for any and all applicable laws, regulations or contracts that information may be subject to. If I receive un-solicited information, I am under no obligation to determine its source or its legality. I may or may not be able to determine its veracity before publication and make no claims of such.

    Caveat emptor.

    In spite of what some might think, my goal is not to increase traffic to the site for traffic’s sake. The monetary and other benefits of that strategy for me are minimal. Instead, my objective is to provide useful information to inform your decision-making and to encourage sharing and discussion of relevant information within the community that has developed. That’s why the tone and spirit of the community is so important. Threats of violence, irresponsible obscenity, personal attacks towards me and others, or outing of anyone other than public figures and senior leadership of the firms and their clients is not welcome. These community standards will be strictly, and personally, enforced.

    You will find a formal Privacy Policy along with the re: The Auditors Terms of Use here.

    And although my Disclaimer is written in a humorous fashion, I’m actually quite serious.

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    11 Responses »

    1. Fran

      What is with the ad from Deloitte?

    2. @TheGoodWife

      It comes up randomly and not under my control via my subscription to Google AdSense program. Isn’t that ironic? ;)
      Francine

    3. while i understand where you are coming from, and did not see the specific post that was apparently quite inappropriate and threatening, i find it dissapointing that you turned the information over to pwc. that has nothing to do with pwc per se, but rather what i believe is the right way to operate a site like this. there is a general relaitonship that needs to be built between you and your followers based on a degree of trust. you are effectively a member of the press / media. and your sources are your sources. disclosing information about sources who intented to remain anonymous is your right perhaps but not the right thing to do. certainly, where the law mandates disclosure (there is plenty of case law here, albeit highly controvercial) you need to dowhat you have to do. from the outside, it appears pwc applied a little pressure as you got under their skin and you caved.

    4. I have to admit, I had a good chuckle!

    5. @3 brealpwc

      Maybe you misunderstood. I did not disclose any sources. That will never happen.

      What I disclosed is information I had regarding the source of the threatening comments postings. They are anonymous. They have no trust built up or relationship with me. I will not be used to threaten anyone and will certainly not stand for any threats to be made to me.

      No one pressured. If they had not called , I was going to turn over to police. I will still be filing a report with police on the threats to me personally.
      Francine

    6. No one should really be defending anybody who made violent threats towards anybody. The one’s making violent threats to FM or anybody at PwC are the one’s that acted inappropriately.

    7. Fran,

      Thank you for frank and detailed summary of last week. Clearly you were unfairly treated and as a human being I feel for you. Overall I probably disagree with your comments more than I agree with them (being a greedy money grabbing partner) however I always consider your articles well thought out and thought provoking. Please keep providing this service as I do agree with you that there is no other independent source within the press reporting on our profession.

      Regards and respect

    8. People need to realize, threats of physical harm are threats. If they are made in person, in writing, on the phone or via computer they are still threats and it is illegal.

      A person that makes threats, like the vile and physical one’s that Francine personally received or the physical threats she witnessed against others is breaking the law and they need to be held accountable. They also, in some cases, need to obtain psychiatric help and stay off the internet.

      Fran, may the angels protect you in your pursuit for transparency!

    9. I like @7 often disagree with Fran, but could NEVER diagree with her actions regarding this situation or how she monitors this blog. Further, anyone using PwC’s network needs to know that whatever they do on that network is the property of PwC. Your PwC computer, internet access, email, telephone/voicemail, etc, etc — it all belongs to PwC. They have every right to that information… and probably given they contacted Fran, they had a sniffer on the outgoing traffic and had most of the information already. You may want privacy, but in the cyber world there is very little of that.

      OK, Fran has made a mistake here and there with some choices — but she admits them, corrects them and learns from them. She did nothing wrong last week and I commend her for talking to PwC and going to the police. @3 got it wrong, Fran is spot on regarding this topic.

    10. Hey the effect of this on the NY office is that they brought the guards back. (The ones they fired to cut costs)

    11. […] Establish your community rules, terms of use, and community standards early.  Let everyone know what is and isn’t allowed. I had a big issue almost three years in that forced me to wake up. […]

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