One of the early changes our legal team identified for McGraw-Hill was to change the name of these two group type, We changed "Private" and "Secret" to “Invitation Only” and “Unlisted” (after the You Tube term). They cited case law that made its way up to the US Supreme Court regarding the 4th Amendment to the Bill of Rights. They had concerns that by using the terms private and secret it could create a situation where it would be deemed illegal for the company to monitor activities in those groups. As a regulated company (we own Standard & Poor's) we are required to archive and perform surveillance on electronic communications.
I’ll start by saying I am not an attorney and I don’t play one on TV either, however I’ll do my best to explain what our legal team is seeing.
The 4thamendment deals with your rights regarding search and seizure. We normally think about it in the context of the police needing a warrant and reasonable cause to search your private spaces such as your home or car. In the workplace it has applicability as well. If you as an employee have a reasonable expectation of privacy then the company can not invade that privacy by using your words or actions against you. There are lots of cases that have made their way through the courts regarding social media tools. As an example, cases involving Facebook were cited. Employees argue this is a private space and the company can’t take action against them as the company has no right to review that content even if it occurred during company time and on company equipment. The employee had a “reasonable expectation” that their Facebook post to their friends is a private matter not to be recorded by their company.
Not all of these cases were ruled in favor of the employee, but the fact that so many work their way through the courts and that 4th amendment rights will trump any corporate policies one might sign, the legal team had concerns over the group names. If a group is called “private” or “secret” they can easily foresee how someone may argue in the future that the company had no right to monitor or review the content in those groups because they gave the employee the “reasonable expectation of privacy”.
So particularly for financial services firms that need to record all conversations such as these, it was easier to change the wording than take the chance. Using the phrase changing feature in the admin console is the easy way to do it. Although we found a couple of locations that did not change with this approach. There is a more thorough approach by changing the web application text file that lists all labels in the system. Your technology team or Jive Profesional Services could implement that. This approach has proven to be very effective. Additionally, we have made changes to "Private Discussions" and related labels. We now call them "Direct Discussion" (we are on version Jive SBS 220.127.116.11).
Here is a product idea for Jive to review and add to a future release.
Please vote this up: Group Types Private and Secret may have legal issues
Hope this is helpful.