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Are we as clients really protected by the confidentialty clauses? I would like to send some contracts to a person overseas to work on for me but these are certainly private. Aside from these agreements, what mechanisms do we have to enforce or uphold these confidentiality clauses? What can we actually do if a person in another country viloates them?


Much appreciated! 

Community Guru

This may help you out a little bit:


I've flagged your post, so I'm sure a mod will come along to offer more information.

re: "Are we as clients really protected by the confidentialty clauses?"


No. Not really.


When you hire me, you have absolute protection because I regard your confidentiality as sacrosanct, and I respect it even more than if you went to an attorney, doctor, therapist or priest.


But I can only make that promise for myself, not for any other freelancer. (And I'm not available to hire through the Forum, so you can't actually hire me.)



re: "What can we actually do if a person in another country violates them?"


As a practical matter, you can't do anything. You can't really do anything even if somebody in your own town violates these clauses. How are you even going to know?

And to add to that: even if you would somehow learn about privacy violation, what are you going to do? Go to court? This will probably take ages and even if you get a favorable ruling, what are you going to get from a freelancer who violated the confi clause? Most likely he/she is such bottom-feeder that there would not be any assets to grab. 


The only recourse you have is to hire reputable freelancers with long histories and good reputations. 

Community Guru

I agree with Ivan. The best protection for you is to hire great freelancers with good histories and ratings.


However, I don't know what type of job you're hiring for, or exactly what type of confidential information you're sharing. If for example you need to give a freelancer access to a customer database with private customer information or something like that (just a long-shot example) then you may want to seek either legal or professional advice on how to protect sensitive data.

I work on systems with sensitive information, including credit card information, patient medical data, passwords, customer contact information.


I'm rather uninterested in confidentiality clauses or signing paperwork, etc., etc. I certainly don't need any of that when clients hire me.


I don't use any of that when I hire people as a client.


Hire top-notch people, and there's little to worry about.


But also: There are many technical ways to prevent freelancers from having access to any sensitive information. Really only a small number of people who work on systems actually need any kind of access to confidential information. Most work can be done without even having such access, so confidentiality considerations are irrelevent.

Preston --


Translators often work with extremely confidential information. I routinely have access to people's dates and places of birth; their parents' names and their own dates and places of birth; their religious affiliations and dates of baptism, etc. In certain countries and at certain times, birth certificates or related documents even listed parents' eye and hair color, and also routinely listed certain details regarding reasons for illegitimacy.


As a translator, I have access to information on rental amounts paid (and unpaid), disputes between sellers and buyers of a wide variety of merchandise, agreements regarding merchandise and intellectual property to be sold in the future, etc.


I have also helped to proofread and edit a few documents of a personal nature that would open your eyes as if they been washed with lemon juice. Of those, I will say nothing at all--except that an unscrupulous person could actually use the contents to create uncomfortable situations for professionally-placed people. I always work with such documents with the respect and detachment they deserve, and insofar as I am unable to ignore the content, I simply assume that everyone involved (especially my own client) is doing the best they can in difficult circumstances.

A non disclosure agreement is as good as the time and money you have to try to defend it.  Otherwise, it is pretty much useless.


Try to find reputable freelancers that respect that your information should be protected.  I work mainly with start up technology companies.  I know that a start up's ideas and intellectual property are their most important assets.  Client confidentiality is paramount.

With or without an NDA, one would be committing professional suicide to violate a client's confidentiality.


However, I have seen extremely confidential material publicly displayed by clients on Upwork, particularly medical and legal details (with names and hospitals mentioned) and there was another highly sensitive document that I reported not only to Upwork, but also to the French police.


Clients have to be equally aware that if they farm out material for other people to proofread or translate it should be confidential, not displayed as an attachment for anyone to copy or to make use of.

Community Guru

I agree with what everyone here has said about being sure to hire a reputable freelancer. There are those of us who value our professionialism and client relationship more than any NDA could state.


I once had a B&M programming contract with a major financial company in their HR department. The area I dealt was mainly the top executives pay and bonuses. People would ask things like "What does the president make?". My answer was, "I don't know and I don't care. I'm there to write programs." Even if I knew the answer to questions like that, I wouldn't tell them any way Smiley Happy.

"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are."
Buckaroo Banzai

There is a client who is posting a job that sure looks like Academic Fraud (even includes the phrase "This is a high school essay") -- but the client is so worried about ethics (??) that he or she is demanding that the Freelancer sign an NDA !!

Were you able to determine if h/s was a law student?  Perhaps h/s attended a class or two -  😉


I'm not sure which is winning - my disgust or my laughter.




Community Guru



I agree with what others like Preston have already said. There's one point that wasn't mentioned though: Confidentiality in transfer. Everything you send unencrypted is no longer confidential. Regardless of whether you send via email or Upwork's messaging system.