Sunday, November 20, 2011
Products such as 3M's Privacy Screen Protector prevent others from seeing your mobile device screen when you work away from the office like sitting on an airplane or in any other public space where prying eyes habitate. See below for a video demonstrating how a smartphone privacy screen works. The heavy use of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets and laptops) to transact confidential client business away from the safe confines of the office means that the risk of the inadvertent disclosure of the attorney-client or work-product privileges is eminently foreseeable. That raises the question whether a court would consider the failure to use a screen protector under such circumstances prima facie evidence of negligence on the part of the attorney. Courts vary in how they analyze inadvertent disclosures but a common approach asks whether the attorney took "reasonable steps" to prevent the disclosure.
Given the minimal cost and ease of installing screen privacy protectors, there's no reason attorneys should not use them for their mobile devices. Stories abound of people overhearing all manner of confidential information while waiting around in airports or traveling on commuter trains. Don't wait for a court to rule that your failure to spend a couple of dollars on a privacy screen amounts to gross negligence regarding the failure to prevent an inadvertent disclosure of confidential client information. But do take a moment to shop around because based on my quick review of customer ratings for several screen protectors sold by Amazon, some apparently work better than others.