Protecting Privilege Communication on phone by lawyers

Attorney-client privilege is a big deal. Lawyers, judges and other legal practitioners must be eager to protect this mammoth show of trust.

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

As general caution, lawyers and judges should be cautious of who they allow access to their phones.

Litigation is heavily reliant on information. Lawyers have a constant need to know the facts of a matter in order to perform their roles properly. It is no secret that the growth of technology in modern societies presents new threats to its users. While the advantages presented through advancement in technology cannot be understated, it is critical to recognize the new challenges that arise as a result.

Wireless tapping of devices, cyber-fraud, unethical hacking etc are just a few of these new threats consumers of technology have to confront every day. These consumers of technology include lawyers and judges. There is also the small matter of being secretly recorded during phone conversations for intents that are not typically flattering. The damage that follows these occurrences may be dire, especially in litigation and court actions. For lawyers and judges, it is all the more dangerous if someone is able to hack their mobile devices, emails and private chats on platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

The Supreme Court affirmed through Pwamang JSC In Raphael Cubagee vs. Michael Yeboah Asare, K. Gyasi Company Limited, Assembly Of God Church [2018] DLSC141 that an individual’s rights to privacy “is one of the most widely demanded human rights in today’s world for the simple reason that advancements in information and communication technology have made it extremely easy to interfere with privacy rights.” To all intents and purposes, a lawyer should be able to have confidence in the security and privacy he is entitled to on his electronic devices.

While we may be confident that the Supreme Court decided in the case (quoted supra) that evidence obtained by secretly recording another person is not admissible in court and constitutes a breach of the person’s right to privacy, it is still crucial to note that another person may use this information to ends that are detrimental to your interests.

Lawyers are bound to protect information obtained through attorney-client privileges. This privilege protects and preserves communications between lawyers and their clients and is important for ensuring the secrecy or confidentiality of such conversations is protected. The legal profession emphasizes the importance of honesty and proper conduct. The sensitivity of information lawyers come into contact with by virtue of their unique position within the law makes it important for there to exist a layer of protection that ensures that privileged information is not indiscriminately used or disseminated.

Information is priceless. In an era where private information is always under threat of being illegally acquired and brutally used, there is extra need to match the threat with caution and adopt protective mechanisms. Technology is rapidly advancing and perhaps, there may be a time in the future where users are able to digitally track the full extents to which the information they provide is used. Within the law, there is a good enough protective layer to protect the interests of all persons seeking justice.

Giving your phone out

While it is a good mark of endearment for individuals to allow their spouses to access their phones, it is a risky undertaking in litigation, given the exposure it can bring to privileged information. Lawyers and judges may find other means of building trust in their private relationships without compromising the integrity of client’s information by allowing their spouses, close friends, children or other close relations to access their phones. The general rule of thumb, now and always, is “Thou shall not give out they phone”.

Short Codes

Given recent technological advancements, refusing third party access to your phone may not prove to be enough in protecting client information and privileged data. Hackers are constantly devising new means of tracking the phones of lawyers and judges as well as listening in on private conversations. To combat this threat, there are a number of short codes presently available to assist you in that regard. Take a few seconds after reading this article and check them out on your phone.

– Dial *#06# to show your device’s IMEI. The IMEI is a unique identification number that can help law enforcement agents to keep your device safe if it is lost or compromised.

– Dial *#61# to check if your unanswered calls divert elsewhere.

– Dialling *#62# can help you check if your phone is tapped and is being accessed even when the device is off or has lost connection. You can dial ##62# to reset the settings.

– Find out if your busy/rejected calls divert to another number by dialing *#67#.

– Conditional call forwarding allows your incoming calls go to another number. Access the setting via *#004#. The code reveals the contacts that receive your calls or messages when you are unreachable.

– Unconditional data diversion is when hackers divert your calls when you are either online or offline. Scan your number to discover any such intrusions via *#21#. Erase the settings with ##21#.

-Check your all forwarding settings with *#002#. Erase the settings with ##002#.

WhatsApp Protection

In most parts of today’s society, a ton of transactions and correspondence take place on WhatsApp. The platform allows sharing of media files and voice recordings that can be useful for building evidence in a case. WhatsApp stores these media files until you delete them, hence, the need to ensure that the information available in your account is not easily accessible to other persons. Thankfully, WhatsApp adopts end-to-end encryption, which is helpful in guarding against hackers. Nonetheless, it is your responsibility to keep other persons away from viewing these information by implementing the lock chat feature that WhatsApp provides.

This feature allows you to protect your chats with a password or your device’s Face/Fingerprint recognition system unlock. Consequently, users are required to pass this barrier before they can access the content on the WhatsApp account. Undeniably, it is a helpful intervention to guard against unauthorized third-party access to your private conversations stored on your device. Nonetheless, there is further responsibility on lawyers and judges to ensure that no one else has this password or ability to unlock the account with the fingerprint or face ID.

Enable this protection by going to Settings on your WhatsApp account. Click Account, then Privacy and then Screen Lock. Turn on the applicable lock system on your device and set your account to lock Automatically, as extra caution.

Email Protection

Protect your emails by adopting the two-factor authentication system widely available on platforms such as Google. Pay attention to alerts in your email account when a device accesses your email. If you do not recognize the activity, take active steps to change your password and report the matter to Google or your email service provider. It is also healthy to change your password at least once every month.

General Phone Protection

Fingerprint/Face ID Unlock

Every phone has a unique mode of protection. Typically, you can create a password or a passcode, depending on the device you use. This is the most basic protection you can give yourself in the interest of the sensitivity of your work as a lawyer or a judge. Most phones these days also have the option of creating a fingerprint or a Face ID so that you do not have to key in your password at all times in public.

To enable this feature, simply go to Settings on your Phone, click on Security/Privacy/Face ID & Passcode etc. where applicable. Follow the prompts afterwards to set up your fingerprint or your Face ID.

Sharing Location

Some external applications require access to your device’s location or permission to share this location. Your device may also be sharing location without your knowledge, to third party applications. This can be used to track your device and can be used by hackers to steal sensitive content in other applications.

To check against this, turn off your device’s location if the service is not in use. Even if your iPhone is stolen while the device’s location is turned off, you can enable Lost Mode on your iCloud to ensure that no one is able to access the contents on the device, to protect the sensitivity of it. As an extra touch, disabling Location services help to protect your device’s battery health.

Third party access to device information and phone numbers

Third party applications that require access to your device’s data, contacts, calendars, your phone number and other information must be treated with extreme caution. It is helpful to only download applications from recognized stores such as Google Play Store, the AppStore or the Windows Store. If an app requests to track other apps or other sensitive data on your phone, be extra careful to ensure that this does not compromise sensitive information.

Some applications even request to read your messages and can use predictive tools and AI to track your lifestyle, based on your interactions with your phone. This can be detrimental to you in the long run, if there are sensitive client information on your phone. As much as possible, dedicate your work devices for work alone and get another device that can be used for social interactions and engagements.

Attorney-client privilege is a big deal. Lawyers, judges and other legal practitioners must be eager to protect this mammoth show of trust.