As part of Dennys email about the events leading to James removal, the
topic of confidentiality came up. It was argued that staff members of WMF
did approach James and shared their views and insights, and requested that
this information would be kept confidential, at least ( so I assume) in
regards to *who* said something.

Of course, I do not know anything about the deatils of what happend in this
case; but I have encountered similar circumstances in the past, so I wanted
to share my thoughts on them:


   Confidentiality is something that is not established by asking for it.
   That means that it is simply not enough to state that you want something
   to be kept confidential, for example by stating at the beginning or the end
   of an email: “Please keep this confidential.” If you share information with
   someone, than you  can not control how she is going to use this
   information, as long as you do not have explicit or implicit guarantees.

   Instead, confidentiality is granted.
   So before sharing information that you want to be kept confidential, you
   need to get the other party's’ agreement and consent that they will keep
   whatever they hear confidential. Without that, you can not expect nor
   demand that what you shared is to be held confidential.

   So think hard before you grant confidentiality
   If someone asks you to keep something they are going to tell you
   confidential, think hard before you agree to it. In the case of James
   Heilman (or any other board member), their obligation is towards the WMF,
   and they can not step away from this in order to keep certain information
   confidential. So, in my opinion, no board member is able to grant
   confidentiality to a staff member, because there is a good chance that they
   are obliged to disclose this information under their obligations towards
   the WMF.

There is a good way around this problem: Both parties, sender and receiver
of such information, should speak about how they expect the other one to
handle this information, without requesting, nor granting confidentiality.
For example, you can agree to not share the personal details of who gave
you the information, unless you are required to do so under your higher
obligations. Or you can ask for the information that you give to be used
sensible and in a way that is least impactful to the person who provided
the information. And as someone who receives this info, you should point
out that you will try and protect the interests of the other party as much
as possible - without guaranteeing anything you can not keep.

Hope that helped.




Mit freundlichen Grüßen / Kind regards,

Pavel Richter
Mobile: +49-151-19645755
Twitter: @pavel <>
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