Interviews in the Time of the Coronavirus: Presentation, privacy, and cybersecurity issues in digital media

Author: Program on IP & Technology Law

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The Program on IP & Technology Law’s current webinars address the unexpected circumstances associated with the coronavirus. These weekly webinars spotlight areas of the student experience that have changed or become increasingly important as law schools, IP law firms, government agencies such as the USPTO, and courts address the risks and mitigate the impact associated with COVID-19. On Wednesday, April 15, the Program hosted a webinar to share practical interview tips with students, especially as interviews are increasingly held on video conferencing platforms. Ali Wruble, Notre Dame Law School’s Recruiting Program Manager, added her perspective. Video conferencing platforms also have their share of privacy and cybersecurity issues and the discussion therefore also touched on the substantive legal issues that surround our increased use of technology. Our guest speakers, Julie Kadish, an Associate on the Privacy and Cybersecurity team at Sheppard Mullin and a 2015 Notre Dame Law School alumna, and Christine Bannan, former Consumer Protection Counsel at Electronic Privacy Information Center now with Open Tech Institute and a 2017 Notre Dame Law School alumna, shared their perspectives with students. Paths to careers in privacy and cybersecurity law were also explored. As you continue to interview and encounter privacy issues associated with video conferencing platforms, consider these takeaways from our discussion.

#1 Everything has changed and nothing has changed

Law firms and employers previously used video conferencing platforms as a convenience and not as a necessity. In these times of social distancing, video conference platforms have become the one opportunity students have to make an impression. Students should therefore especially treat a virtual interview as an in person interview in terms of its importance, Ali Wruble notes. Be sure to be in interview mode. Avoid slipping into bad habits by wearing a full suit and minimize distractions around you. Choose a subdued real background instead of a virtual one, as the cut out effect might prove to be truly distracting for your audience. Natural light, ideally from the front, is important. As the fashion designer Tom Ford recently shared in The New York Times, putting a tall lamp that sheds light on your face next to your computer and a piece of white paper in front of your computer can do wonders for looking good on camera. Be aware of the frame: hand gestures may be great in person but may not translate through the camera. Above all, as in an in person interview, consider the impression your accessorizing will have on your audience. A pair of large headphones may translate for on-trend attorneys in technology practice or for a start-up or other in-house position, but a traditional law firm may respond better to smaller headphones or no headphones at all.

#2 Communication is key, but so is research

Many are the stories of virtual interviews gone awry, but communication with your interviewer can often mitigate these visual misunderstandings. For example, if you’re someone who takes notes during interviews, your face might naturally angle downwards, causing you to lose eye contact. Julie Kadish suggests letting your audience know you are taking notes at the outset of the interview, so they will expect you to look away during the conversation. If you have audio issues, don’t be afraid to mention them, notes Christine Bannan. Of course, there are some instances in which communication may not mitigate the issues you are facing. The very choice of video conferencing platform, for example, can be out of your hands. You may be locked in to the platform chosen by the interviewer. If this is the case, check the end-user settings, even if they are often determined by the host. Researching the peculiarities of various platforms’ settings, and the ways in which they might be set for your benefit, could proactively prevent interview disruptions and unwanted sharing. Explore, for example, if a chat is exportable. Some national law firms have recently taken to pre-recording interviews to share with their many offices, giving interviewees a select amount of time to prepare an answer on camera. Ascertain if your interview will be recorded and what procedures will be in place before it begins. Be aware of how interview software might profile you or make other decisions about your interviewing behavior, especially as you may be in a difficult position to revoke consent to the use of certain platforms. While at the EPI Christine Bannan wrote a complaint to the FTC spotlighting the unfair and deceptive practices of HireVue, an interviewing service that uses facial recognition and AI.

#3 Read privacy policies

Knowledge of procedures surrounding your virtual interview go beyond troubleshooting for the interview itself. Privacy concerns when you use these platforms might include how these services collect, use, and share your information. Reading the privacy policies of the various video conferencing platforms can help shed light on these points to you as an end-user. Legal risks to companies in this space often turn on what consumers were told and what actually happened, Julie Kadish shared. These claims may be brought under state UDAAP laws or at the federal level under Section 5 of the FTC Act. A privacy policy is not the only relevant document at issue when these claims are investigated. Disclosures on all social media and on websites may also be analyzed. End-users of these platforms should take advantage of the options companies have put at your disposal, such as password protection for meetings, unique meeting IDs, and call waiting functions.

#4 Embrace legal complexities with enthusiasm for a future privacy law career

As recently as five years ago privacy and cybersecurity law were still emerging fields. The invalidation of the EU-US Safe Harbor Framework, the release of the draft of the General Data Protection Regulation, and the increasing reliance on technology in our lives inspired Julie Kadish to pivot from an early start in litigation. Consider the myriad of positions that can give you insight into the competing interests and stakeholders in the field. In-house positions, even for small companies, can give you intellectual property licensing and product review experience that may be crucial for later practice with a firm. Keep in mind the differences between privacy and cybersecurity, which are not the same thing. While these two disciplines are interrelated and require an understanding of each other, there are some people who practice in one discipline, but not the other. In private practice, a career in privacy and cybersecurity can be rooted in transactional work, which involves detailed contract reviews for privacy and data security implications, and/or deal support assessing privacy and cybersecurity risks to a company. In counseling and regulatory roles, you often partner with clients to help them figure out how to lawfully collect and use information in their products and services. You could also have a career in privacy and cybersecurity as a litigator, working on cases involving laws such as the biometric law in Illinois, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and class actions that arise in the aftermath of data breaches. There are also many careers in privacy from a policy or advocacy perspective. Christine Bannan’s interest in privacy was fostered during her 1L summer experience at the Wikimedia Foundation. From this policy perspective, practicing privacy law includes interfacing with administrative law and writing complaints to federal agencies, such as the FTC and FCC, and commenting on their rule-making. Prior to pursuing fellowships in this area, Christine Bannan took advantage of the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) exam offered by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Benefits of taking the exam while in Law School include showing a demonstrated interest in privacy law to interviewers before beginning your practice. IAPP also offers the Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT) exam, which Julie Kadish notes is a way to prepare for interfacing with tech clients, tech specialists, and engineers that design the features that have privacy and security implications. While, given the coronavirus situation, Congress may not pass a federal privacy law until 2021 (or later), the California Consumer Privacy Act came into effect January of this year. Articles on the IAPP blog, Gizmodo, Techcrunch, and even Twitter can provide you with cutting edge news and information. Use these new virtual interview opportunities as a research lab for your future.