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Iintroduction Doris van de Sand - Business Coach

Contribution of the Ethics Committee ICF Germany

In October 2019, Rick Osterloh (Google Devices boss) was asked in an interview by the BBC whether homeowners should warn guests that their nest devices could record them, and he replied that he already did so for his own home guests.

The interviewer followed up on whether Osterloh felt that homeowners should be generally obliged to disclose that their conversations could be overheard or recorded by devices. Osterloh: "My goodness, I have never thought about it like that before! It's important that we think of all users with all these technologies... we have to take into account all the stakeholders that might be in the vicinity."  

My reaction when I read the interview was similar: "Blimey, I never really thought about that."
Now I have neither Google Nest nor loudspeakers with built-in eavesdroppers such as Alexa or Google Home installed in my rooms. I also do not use Siri or Google Assistant ("ok Google") on my smartphone.
Does this put me on the ethically clean side as a coach?

What do the new ethical standards of ICF look like?

Section I - Responsibility to clients
As an ICF Professional, I:

3. Maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all parties as agreed upon. I am aware of and agree to comply with all applicable laws that pertain to personal data and communications.

7. Maintain, store and dispose of any records, including electronic files and communications, created during my professional interactions in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security and privacy and complies with any applicable laws and agreements. Furthermore, I seek to make proper use of emerging and growing technological developments that are being used in coaching services (technology-assisted coaching services) and be aware how various ethical standards apply to them.

Section I – Responsibility to Clients
Interpretive Statement to Standard 7

(….) ICF professionals, should take appropriate security precautions when using electronic communications such as e-mails, online mail, online chat sessions, mobile communications and text messages, such as encryption, firewalls with passwords, etc.

The client is to be informed about the fact of the written, electronic or otherwise made recordings and their protection, but not about their content. The client’s consent must be obtained before audio or video recordings are made. This also applies to the use of artificial intelligence devices that automatically record the sound in a room (e.g. Alexa, Siri, etc.).

When using external service providers, it must be checked whether the handling of data and information (general standard terms and conditions, GTC) by this service provider matches the ICF’s ethical requirements.”

Oops, so it is not enough to use neither Google Nest nor Siri nor Alexa! That's where I' ve arrived with a self-critical look at my handling of technical apps, tools and programs. There is still a lot more to consider:

(1) Webcam
10 days ago, I accidentally discovered that my wonderful HD webcam is quite capable of recording audio that I listen to on my PC - even if the blue light that indicates that the camera is active is not lit. I have found out that the light of the camera only comes on in camera mode, but not in audio recording mode!

My conclusion: Unplug the camera if I do not want to use it actively. It is awkward, because I have to crawl under the desk every time to get behind the PC tower. But now I am ethically on the safer side regarding this point and the maneuver also gives me a bit more exercise - that doesn't hurt either.

(short version of the article)

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