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The importance of confidentiality when providing certified translation services


The translation industry is a sector where a very high number and diversity of documents is handled, from purely legal texts (such as contracts) to informative and administrative papers. Just a short list of the types of documents involved would include academic certificates, birth and death records, technical manuals, medical records, etc. The huge level of global population movements means that demand is high, and few documents are exempt from the need for translation.

However, translation, and above all official or certified translation, is also one of the sectors where confidentiality is, understandably, one of the greatest concerns of clients who are submitting their confidential documents for translation. The reality is that, at times, this can be a detrimental influence on the final quality of the final product; in other words, the translation itself. There is a certain fear of giving more information than is strictly necessary. However, for a successful translation, the more information, the better the final quality of the translation.

These fears are understandable if the customer's point of view is taken into account. They are providing very sensitive personal information of a private nature. But it may not seem such a logical position from the translator's point of view. The translator acts as a trained professional who is governed by a specific ethical behaviour. In addition to the Data Protection Act.

The existence of this situation, and not only in the field of translation, has led to the creation of laws protecting users from the dissemination of sensitive information by companies working with private data.

Whether in the company's general conditions or as part of their professional ethics, every translation company or independent translator offering quality services should explain how it manages this kind of data, which requires such care and discretion. To combat the fears caused by misinformation, there is only one solution - be very clear about the treatment and handling of confidential client data.

Data Protection and Confidentiality Laws

All countries have some kind of data protection laws, but since I’m living and working in Spain, I’ll mention former Organic Law 15/1999 on the Protection of Personal Data, which was intended to guarantee and protect (within the framework of the processing of personal data) the public freedoms and fundamental rights of individuals. Especially those issues related to honour and privacy, both personal and family-related.

The new Law on Data Protection and the Guarantee of Digital Rights was approved on 5 December 2018. It is an update of the previous law. It establishes the way in which people should be informed about the processing of their data. According to the AEPD (Spanish Data Protection Agency), this new organic law makes it easier, specifically in the field of the Internet, for all citizens to find out clearly and simply the most important aspects of data processing.

Furthermore, in comparison with the old data protection law, it recognises the right of access, rectification or suppression of information on deceased persons. It regulates the “right to forget” in social networks and similar services. It updates the guarantees of the right to privacy in the workplace. Finally, it modifies the law on unfair competition. It does so by regulating as “aggressive practices” those actions that attempt to supplant the identity of an agency or its functions.

In short, both Organic Law 15/1999 and Law 3/2018 seek to guarantee the confidentiality of the population’s data, on the understanding that there is sensitive information of a personal nature that must be protected.

How to know if I can trust a company or freelancer?

Our group of independent professionals working on certified translation is governed by a common ethic – deontology – which is based on basic principles of professionalism, punctuality and confidentiality. In relation to confidentiality, any translation company or independent translator offering quality services should comply with the following requirements, as a minimum:

- All documents will be considered to be confidential unless it has been officially stated that they are in the public domain.

- Confidentiality will not be time-limited, i.e. this policy will continue to be maintained after the project has been completed.

- The disclosure of confidential information in any environment, including within the company, will be expressly prohibited.

- All documents – including, digital documents – will be stored in a secure location where they cannot be lost or stolen.



In summary...

The customer-translator relationship is based on mutual trust. It is supported by the current data protection law. The translator or certified translation company must always guarantee the greatest transparency and confidentiality with the documentation delivered. Likewise, the client must trust that the documentation given will be treated as material to be translated exclusively - that is, to be used only for the job which has been requested, and for no other reason. All sensitive information that may appear in the documentation will be handled with the utmost confidentiality at all stages of the translation process. From the moment it is sent for a quote to its translation, revision and final delivery. If you need a certified translation, or a standard translation of any kind, you know you are good hands with us as that we treat your documents – whatever their content – with the utmost confidentiality. Many thanks for reading, and feel free to get in touch with any requests for quotes, questions about our group and the certified translation process, or anything else we might be able to help you with.

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