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Do translation agencies have the right to scan translators' computers?
Thread poster: Vickie Dimitriadou

Vickie Dimitriadou
Local time: 07:19
English to Greek
Dec 25, 2014

New clauses in a translation agency's agreement for translators to sign

"We reserve the right to scan your computer to validate that Anti-Virus software is installed and configured correctly and has an up-to-date virus database installed. (Current supported Microsoft Desktop Operating Systems are: Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.)

We reserve the right to carry out an onsite check of your information technology systems, physical and information security processes and measures to ensure best practice and compliance with clauses 6.15 and 6.16 up to twice a year throughout the duration of this agreement upon reasonable prior written notice, except in case of an emergency."

[Edited at 2014-12-25 19:16 GMT]


Recep Kurt  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
Member (2011)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Well, well... Dec 25, 2014

Since when have translation agencies become experts in "validating that Anti-Virus software is installed and configured correctly"? Ridiculous...


Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Have the right only if one agrees to such a ridicouls clause Dec 25, 2014

As an independent translator you are not the agency's employee, nor use their hardware, software, or offices. You and the agency are two separate entities, business partners in essence, that enter an agreement with a defined scope and are not liable to each other (as I'm sure they stress in another clause in that same document) outside of the agreed project scope.

Your computer (hardware), softwares, and "site" are your business and responsibility. Ask yourself this, would you grant access to your computer and "site" (i.e. office) to just about any random person that you happen to do business with in one form or another?

[Edited at 2014-12-25 20:11 GMT]


Andrzej Lejman  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:19
Member (2004)
German to Polish
+ ...
ROTFL... Dec 25, 2014

What else to say?


Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
No way Dec 25, 2014

There is only one answer to such an outrageous proposition: no. If they don't like the answer, then the only reaction is: goodbye.

You could even breach NDAs with other clients by letting them do that.


Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:19
Dutch to English
+ ...
Well, obviously anything is possible Dec 25, 2014

as long as you sign that drivel.

More to the point, though, a) it's an invasion of privacy (one which other clients of yours would be very concerned about) and b) is someone from the agency actually going to occupy themselves with such a waste of time. Or even better, going to fly potentially to the other side of the world to do this check (or are they only going to hire translators from down the road?).

I'd probably laugh terribly hard if I didn't find it a sign of utter disrespect.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:19
Chinese to English
I would have no objection to the second part Dec 26, 2014

If they really want to come and knock on my door, look around my office and observe the fact that I'm not a security risk, I wouldn't mind too much. Clients visiting the premises of their suppliers as basic due diligence is a pretty normal thing. But remote digital intrusion onto a computer is another issue. I'm not qualified to monitor that behaviour, and I won't be able to tell if they are doing exactly what they say they are doing. So I would not agree to it.


James Hodges  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:19
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Not on your Nelly! Dec 26, 2014

I must admit that I do work by remote and sometimes I am asked to download proprietary security software, however, putting this "right to scan" clause in a contract sounds highly dubious. It might also be illegal..... The thing with contracts is that you can write anything you like in them. Those things that are illegal are only found out when somebody kicks up a fuss. Personally, I wouldn't sign up to this kind of malarkey.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:19
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Other things they could wish to scan... Dec 26, 2014

...are whether you have a shower before working on their materials, whether your children comb their hair every morning, whether you washed your teeth after lunch or whether you go to church every Sunday. Anything is possible if we allow agencies to become unreasonable.

The main thing to remember is that we are not employees. As an employee, you would normally use hardware and software supplied by your employer and which you have to take good care of during the period of your employment. If they start to request things that are normal in an employment situation, maybe you want to ask them whether they would like to offer you employment instead of freelance work?


Vickie Dimitriadou
Local time: 07:19
English to Greek
It's not hyphothetical, it's real Dec 26, 2014

These clauses have been reported by two translators who work for a well-known agency in Great Britain. Another translator reported that she had been asked by another agency to consent to her computer being "screened".

On a more technical note, scanning a remote computer means that the scanner has access to ALL of the contents of the computer being scanned. They say they want to check whether a translator has "an Anti-Virus software installed and configured correctly and an up-to-date virus database installed". Are they so much concerned about viruses or do they want to look at other things? Don't they have an antivirus of their own to check the files they receive from translators?

Moral lesson: We should read the agreements very carefully before we sign them. Who knows, maybe that policy is a new "trend" and sooner or later other agencies will follow.

[Edited at 2014-12-26 07:16 GMT]


Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 13:19
Chinese to English
+ ...
Sure... Dec 26, 2014

If they provide the computer as well, they are free to scan it at anytime.


Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nope Dec 26, 2014

I saw the post on LinkedIn that talked about this agency and their new clauses. I wouldn't work with them even if they didn't want to scan my computer.

I was once visited by a group of gentlemen in an unmarked white van that came to inspect my office while I was working on some government documents. I knew they were coming, and everything was already in order. It still wasn't a fun experience and I never accepted any more work from them.

If you think this is bad, let me tell you about my days working in-house. The company was really strict about security. Most of the internet was blocked and they tracked everything that we did online. My boss, who didn't know a thing about languages or translation, decided that we didn't need to access our online dictionaries or other resources since we should have already memorized all the different legal terms and institutions from the dozens of Spanish speaking countries the company dealt with. Then they said that we weren't allowed to use pens or paper, since we could write down and steal vital information. They did eventually put big vinyl shiny stickers on our desks (right under where the mice were) and dry erase markers that we could use for notes, but they would fire us if we didn't erase everything each night.

I quit a couple of months later. icon_smile.gif


Teresa Borges
Local time: 05:19
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hush, hush! Dec 26, 2014

Big Brother is watching you...


Local time: 16:19
English to Arabic
+ ...
strange Dec 26, 2014

It is simple I don't like it so I don't sign


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:19
Russian to English
+ ...
Absolutely. Dec 26, 2014

Thomas Frost wrote:

There is only one answer to such an outrageous proposition: no. If they don't like the answer, then the only reaction is: goodbye.

You could even breach NDAs with other clients by letting them do that.

Happy Holidays, by the way.

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