Q&A - Should compliance enforcement audits be kept confidential from employees?
A.) Absolutely. There is a significant chance that one of your own employees reported the illegal use of copyrighted products. If so, if that person gains knowledge of your audit strategy and defense tactics, they could easily tip off the auditing entity to your plans. That isn’t so much an ethical problem as it is a matter of damaging your potential negotiations tactics. But, there's more, much more...Another potential problem is that, if anyone on your staff has purposely loaded illegal copyrighted products, they may remove those products at the first sign of an audit. If this happens, the chances are very good that you could be confronted for illegally destroying evidence of your “crimes.”
Remember that, in most enforcement audits, the auditors already have a very good idea what products are loaded and where they are located. Removal of violations after the audit notification can be tracked through technology forensics and could significantly damage any credibility you may have. (Oh, and it will probably also boost the fines and penalties.)
Keep your audit process and documentation secure from anyone other than the internal audit team. Conduct all activities and discussions in a secured room. Do not permit people to even look inside at the white boards or other posted materials – that includes everyone from management to your cleaning crew.
It is also wise to conduct the actual system by system compliance review after hours, when employees are not present to observe. Caution all members of the internal audit team to maintain strict confidentiality.
Do you want or need more information? The best vendor-neutral resource you could actually possess is my book: Modern Pirates. It's available from most online book sellers or you can order from your local book store. This is the only book on the market that clearly discusses the copyright enforcement industry tactics – and your possible responses.
Finally, review all the postings on this site for information that addresses many of the problems and cost-effective strategies for solving them. Finally, email your questions and, if the answers aren't already here, we’ll try to provide them.