Why you need a vocabulary constabulary

By Steve Weissman posted 07-09-2013 12:29


A couple of months ago, the state of Florida banned slot machines and Internet cafes after a charity organization was shuttered because of suspected Internet gambling activities. However, according to a lawsuit brought thereafter and written about in the Huffington Post, the bill was written so poorly that it effectively outlaws every computer in the state.

I mentioned this today not only because of its high amusement factor, but also to illustrate just how important it is to police the language you use when developing your information management policies.

In essence, Florida's legislation defines the term "slot machine or device" to mean any machine or device that may be used in a game of chance – thereby including, of course, the PC on your desk and the smart phone in your pocket. This clearly isn't what was intended, and if the lawsuit is successful, the statute will have to be overturned.

For you, the lesson is to be sure to clearly articulate what you are trying to accomplish and how you wish to accomplish it when you sit down to write your various policies. This is especially important to remember in the wake of a negative experience that caused the issue to bubble to the surface in the first place. Sure, creating or revisiting governance guidelines is a very good thing, but responding in knee-jerk fashion without sufficient examination can be counterproductive and embarrassing, as Florida's lawmakers now know.

#ElectronicRecordsManagement #Policies #governance #InformationGovernance