I swear I’m not a cat! Didn’t we all need that awesome laugh this past week?
I must say, Zoom has done a good job of protecting user identities. Even as that cat was talking, I wasn’t positive it was a lawyer presenting his case in court. That’s what I call privacy through identity obfuscation!
Another way to hide or conceal yourself, and things that might be revealed through your background, particularly during WFH, is to simply turn your video off.
I have to say, though, I am not a fan of this tactic. First of all, as a teacher trying to educate law students on the ins and outs of Canadian privacy law, I struggle to keep them engaged when I’m speaking to a bunch of black boxes. Actually, I’m not sure if they’re engaged at all — I guess I also struggle to keep myself engaged. It’s good that about half of the students I have are fully-engaged, cameras on and diving into the discussion and debates we’re having this semester. Maybe the other half will read this and join the club.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I found many of my clients would keep their videos off. It’s certainly not the case anymore. Those sitting behind black screens are definitely in the minority now. I know my spouse manages a pretty large team comprised of different departments and there’s some unevenness in staff’s use of cameras — but when the cameras are on, the teamwork, engagement and creative solutions seem to increase.
Me? I’ve just always had my video on. Why? It’s not because I think you want to look at my shiny head, but rather because as someone who has worked from home for the past 13 years, video conferencing has always been a great way to better connect with co-workers and clients. Back in the day, all I had to rely on was a crude version of Skype. I’m grateful the technology has progressed — the quality of the video, not to mention the screen sharing and chat functionality. I would argue there are certain benefits over in-person meetings!
But it’s not only the technology that has progressed. It’s our adoption of it and how, even in a relatively short period of time, our norms have changed — that’s what I find most interesting of all. I’m glad most people turn on their videos nowadays. I don’t see it as an invasion of privacy, but rather as a way to have a more meaningful and real conversation while remaining in a virtual space.
And, to be clear, technology really has changed rapidly. You don’t need to hide behind an image of a cat if you want your background hidden from view. All you need to do is download one of these handy IAPP background screens. Or make your own!
See, you can have your cake and eat it too.
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