Category Archives: Culture

Telling the truth is a journey

“Facebook Details Data Sharing,” The Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2018 A1.  Facebook “expands” its answer to the question, “Who else saw our data?”  Apparently, a lot more people than Facebook said originally.  A bunch of special deals and exemptions from Facebook’s “policy.”

So, apparently Facebook does not have a personal relationship with the truth, but they sure have your information.

One expects further revelations in the months ahead.


  • Lying is not an effective communications strategy
  • When you’re being investigated, either tell the truth or say “I don’t know.”
  • The only person who can grant an exception to a policy is the person who issued the policy (or their superior)
  • Strictly enforce your company policies, or they won’t help much
  • Treat my data with as much care as you treat your data

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Filed under Accuracy, Communications, Compliance, Controls, Corporation, Culture, Duty, Governance, Internal controls, Investor relations, Oversight, Policy, Privacy, To report

Equifax compliance education

“Former Equifax Manager Is Charged,” The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2018 B3. To respond to the huge privacy breach at Equifax last year, the company set up a website to help some of those affected.  The former software manager setting up that website  bought some options, betting that Equifax’s stock would go down once the breach was discovered.  He faces criminal and civil charges.

Who would have thought a software engineer needed insider trading education?


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Filed under Access, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Culture, Duty, Duty of Care, Employees, Governance, Internal controls, Legal, Oversight, Policy, Protect assets, Requirements

It’s not just VW

Often, a corporation’s violation of law don’t result in a conviction of the senior officers or directors.  Sometimes it does, and when it does, that’s a powerful compliance message.

“Audi CEO Is Arrested In Emissions Scandal,” The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2018 A1. Executive jailed in Germany to prevent obstruction of ongoing investigation into emissions testing scandal at VW.

This goes to Governance, Compliance, and Information.

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Filed under Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Culture, Directors, Duty, Employees, Governance, Oversight, To report, Who is in charge?

Poster boy for Information Governance

Years ago, while teaching a course to MBA students at Rice University, I used the Target credit card breach as a case study.  It touched a lot of bases.  Now we have a better one.

While there have been a lot of information governance-related stories in the news over the past two years, including Equifax and Facebook and VW and Wells Fargo, my nominee for the one name associated with the most significant teaching example in information governance and compliance is the former FBI Director, James Comey.

First, he gave us The Day That Information Governance Died, with his July 5, 2016 pronouncement that, notwithstanding her clear violations of several applicable legal laws dealing with the handling of confidential or secret information (and the destruction of information subject to a subpoena), Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use (and wiping) of a private server to store government email was not going to be prosecuted.  Such a pronouncement deviated “‘from well-established Department policies'” that the FBI does not comment about  ongoing criminal investigations.

Then he wrote a memo ostensibly commemorating a meeting he had with his boss on government business on a government computer (while in a government vehicle) during the work day, and declared that that was his personal correspondence that he could (and did) distribute as he pleased.

And now we learn that he conducted government business over his own private gmail account {that information does not appear in the WSJ article – Ed.}, and actively avoid his boss’ oversight (and his bosses failed to adequately supervise him).  “Report Blasts FBI Agents, Comey Over Clinton Probe,” The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2018 A1. Inspector General releases his report on the Clinton Investigation.


  • Violations of law are not enforced
  • Evidence is destroyed notwithstanding a subpoena
  • Senior employees ignore long-standing policy
  • Senior employees treat documents prepared by them in the course of business as their personal information
  • Senior employees use private email accounts to transact government business
  • Employees hide things from their bosses
  • Bosses failed to adequately supervise their reports

And this is at the FBI, by a lawyer.

Does anyone wonder why we have a hard time getting traction on information governance initiatives?  Certainly an argument for an Information Governance case study of just the Clinton email investigation and its aftermath.  Not sure you could cover it all in one semester, at both law schools and business schools.


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Filed under Communications, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Culture, Discovery, Duty, Duty of Care, Employees, Governance, Government, Information, Internal controls, Lawyers, Managers, Oversight, Ownership, Ownership, Policy, Requirements, Supervision, Who is in charge?

A billion here, a billion there

Eventually, you’re talking real money.

“Volkswagen Fined $1 Billion in Germany,” The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2018 B4. Fine for “dereliction of management oversight” following the diesel emissions-testing scandal.  Somewhat broader than a Caremark claim.

Will the directors have to pay anything out of their pockets?  Or just their shareholders’ pockets?

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Filed under Board, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Directors, Duty, Governance, Internal controls, Oversight, Oversight

Apple ≠ Facebook ≠ Google

Apple seems to be taking a different approach than Facebook or Google.

“iPhone Change To Block Police,” The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2018 B1.  Apple “fixes” the technical hole that allows the authorities to break into the iPhone of a criminal or suspected criminal.

Is Apple more or less concerned about privacy of its users than either Google or Facebook is concerned about the privacy of their customers?  What about Apple’s demonstrated desire to block government access?  Is that more like Google (use of Google AI in weapons systems) or like Facebook (oh, heck, we’ll let just about anyone see our users’ data)?

Is controlling access to user data Governance?  Or is it a feature?  Whom do you trust more?

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Filed under Access, Controls, Corporation, Culture, Duty, Duty of Care, Governance, Government, Internal controls, IT, Oversight, Policy, Privacy, Protect assets, Security, Third parties

Trend to watch

“Vietnam Tightens Web Grip With New Cybersecurity Law,” The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2018 A7.  The Vietnamese government wants access to all Vietnam-based users’ data.

Several provisions of new law will make the lives of international companies such as Facebook and Google, who must now open an office in Vietnam, store the data of Vietnam-based users in the country, and promptly take down user-posted content at the government’s request.

What happens when an irresistible force (the Internet) encounters and immovable object (the government of a sovereign country)?  The US started this (sort of) when it exported the joys of e-discovery.  Then Europe replied by imposing global privacy rules.  Now China and Vietnam are pushing some of their own requirements, but more as restrictions on Internet companies doing business in their countries.

Who’s going to win?

Intersection of Information, Governance, and Compliance.


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Filed under Access, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Culture, Duty, Governance, Legal, Requirements