Truth & Privacy21 May 2010
It may be that truth can set you free, but it can come back to bite you if you aren’t careful. This caveat runs counter to current trends that are breaching the longstanding walls between our public and private lives. One might call this the “facebooking” of the private sphere, in which it seems anything can become fodder for public self-revelation on various social media – or even in eMail – being forwarded beyond the author’s ability to call it back. Whatever the advantages of this ever-greater transparency, there are times when privacy, discretion, and confidentiality are absolutely critical.
When a person hires or consults with an attorney, confidentiality is absolutely critical. It is something that every client or individual obtaining advice has the right to expect. One must be able to tell the truth to an attorney, giving her/him all of the facts necessary to provide good advice. Legal advice must be tailored to all of the relevant circumstances, even the ones that may be difficult to talk about. In order to facilitate open communication and trust between attorneys and clients, there are strict rules about confidentiality. (There are some limits to confidentiality. If you have concerns, research these with regard to the state in which you live.)
Be careful, though! Privilege does not apply every time you talk to anyone about your immigration situation. Be cautious what you say in online forums about your legal situation. Posting on the MurthyChat or MurthyForum, for example, does not create an attorney-client relationship. You must take utmost care to preserve the confidentiality of your case, never mentioning your name or the name of your employer, and never providing other uniquely identifying details. Naturally, it also goes without saying that one should never bad-mouth other people – employers, colleagues, subordinates – or their companies on line. Beyond being unkind, it may be self-defeating, especially if you are found out. Worse yet, it might lead to a lawsuit for damages against you. Keeping an anonymous user name does not protect your identity. Your IP address generally can be traced by anyone with serious motivation, if the tone or detail you mention doesn’t give away your identity, anyway. You should not attempt to communicate with your lawyer through public forums, in any case.
How much can you rely on web resources? Not everything on the web lives up to the high standards that we insist upon for the Murthy Law Firm web resources. Some websites cut and paste from other sources, and leave out important details you need to know. Even materials on MurthyDotCom are no substitute for a one-on-one consultation with one of our attorneys. Then, you can discuss all of the relevant facts of your situation, and get legal advice that is tailored to your unique circumstances.
In short – be wary about what you read online, unless you know the reputation of the source, and especially be careful what you post there. Even the truth can come back to bite you. Think it through before posting or sending private information or personal opinions. Remember: just because something is true doesn’t mean you have to broadcast it. You have more to lose than to gain by posting your personal information online. The Internet is forever!