Translation of a strictly confidential content

Translation of a strictly confidential content

Confidentiality in the translation industry – a neglected issue

The quote presented to a client usually includes a cost estimate and a predicted lead time. This information is essential for the clients, as they often base their choice on these two parameters. There is, however, one thing that is often neglected by the ordering party: confidentiality. We tend to take data safety for granted. We rarely spare a thought on how dangerous information sharing might be. Sometimes, a request for a non-disclosure agreement is requested. Some clients ask a project manager to present the safety measures enforced at a company. Still, majority of them willingly entrust their sensitive data to complete strangers. In such cases, ensuring data safety is up to us. Let’s take a closer look at the loopholes in the system which may pose a serious threat to our company's reputation.

How to recognise the content which should be treated as confidential?

Taking the confidentiality for granted is a common mistake. Even in the translation industry, the newcomers make fundamental mistakes. It is worth to take a closer look at the documents submitted for translation. Legal or financial documents immediately suggest that they involve sensitive information. We are less likely to take necessary precautions upon receiving a literary text or a technical manual. It is a common mistake, as anything found in our business inbox should be treated as confidential. Literary works submitted before the publication should be protected at all costs. Leaked technical data from professional manuals or guidelines might have a detrimental effect on company's market position or further endeavours. Handling medical translations demands utmost precision. This refers to both individual clients and the companies. Discharge cards, informed consent forms, clinical trial results - they all demand the best protection.

Sometimes clients are vocal about their requirements considering data safety - and majority of translation agencies are eager to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Before signing such document, however, we should take our time to analyse the presented agreement. Make sure that your company is able to provide adequate level of confidentiality. Very often we are not even aware that our daily business routine violates anyone's rights. Below, we will present effective ways of handling confidential content during the translation.

Raise awareness – do you violate the laws without even knowing it?

confidential translate


It is common knowledge that having shared something on the Internet, you are unable to completely erase it. Even if you delete the source text or image, you never know how many people have saved it over time and how many have actually already made use of it. At some level, we might not even be aware that we breach the law. Using web-based tools is a common mistake. Their usage in daily work is tempting: they do not have to be installed on our computer, are easily accessible and provide instant support. They are also available for free, which cuts down maintenance cost of the software. We pay for using online tools with something far more valuable than just money - namely, our data.

To prevent unintentional data exposure, read through online resources' terms and conditions. Check whether typed information is not transferred to a third party, exposing it to other people and companies. Cloud-based translation services might do more harm than good to your enterprise. The world outside the net is just as dangerous; working in public spaces and connecting to public Wi-Fi also constitutes a potential risk. There are strangers glaring at the screen of your computer; with today’s technology, it does not take long to snap a few pictures of the confidential content. The translators themselves do not even have to be aware of such violation.

It is also worth remembering that machine translation tools, especially those available online, also pose a threat to data security. They collect data about the user and might retain the provided information in order to improve translation results. If our company is required to maintain the highest level of confidentiality, perhaps it is advisable not to use them at all.

Safe data handling: correspondence and file sharing

Sometimes it is our e-mail system that constitutes the weakest link. If you use a proprietary system - developed especially for our company - always ensure that it provides appropriate data protection. Cloud-based solutions should be closely investigated. Check who also has an access to your inbox - the data might be even exposed to unknown third parties. While sending sensitive information via electronic mail, add a disclaimer (also known as a confidentiality notice). These usually include information on accidental data transmission, along with a request to delete such a message. When sending large files via online providers, carefully read the terms and conditions of use. Secure the files with a password; instead of including the code in an e-mail, share it during a phone call. These security measures are easy to implement, yet provide satisfactory results.

Handling strictly confidential content – in a professional and efficient way

Signing an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) obliges all the professionals involved in the order to provide a highest level of safety. Make sure that the translators are aware of the risks connected with the usage of online tools. Discuss the possible threats that cloud-based solutions pose. For companies handling multiple projects requiring strictly confidential treatment, we have another solution. Consider establishing a private data transmission center - it will help to provide highest level of security. Go to all lengths when it comes to securing your clients’ confidential data. After all, they often share their most valuable information with your company.


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