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Digital age creates new reputational risks

Posted on 28 May 2015


The internet is arguably now the most powerful channel to communicate to a wide audience. It, along with the rise of social media, has undoubtedly created many opportunities for people to have a say and effect change. However, the digital age has also created a host of new reputational risks. At Mishcon de Reya, our experienced Reputation Protection team has observed how the internet has changed the way people's reputations can be damaged, and  has subsequently shifted the landscape of reputation protection work, requiring us to come up with increasingly sophisticated and creative strategies to protect our clients' interests. Some examples of the type of work we are now undertaking follow:

- Loss of clients' sensitive and personal data can be disastrous for a business and must be robustly and proactively managed. A breach can cause huge reputational harm. We work alongside expert forensic investigators and PR advisors to investigate the source of the leak, minimise negative press coverage and if relevant, reduce our client's exposure to regulatory sanctions and mitigate the risk of any legal claims from their own clients. We engage in robust pre-and-post publication correspondence with relevant media and stakeholders.

- Malicious individuals often believe that they can use the internet to attack individuals anonymously and avoid ramifications for their actions. In instances where clients have been threatened anonymously through email addresses designed to disguise the sender's identity, or through the use of fake social media accounts, we work with forensic and private investigators to narrow the search for their author(s), and obtain disclosure from UK internet service providers. As a result, we are able to identify the anonymous attacker and ensure that all illegal activity is ceased, utilising injunctive relief or appropriate criminal sanctions as required.

- Online reviews can have a hugely damaging effect on a business' reputation. They are particularly nefarious when part of an anonymous campaign, as businesses are denied the opportunity to engage with defectors set on ruining a business's good name. We have helped clients who have been subject to large numbers of anonymous, negative reviews - designed by business competitors to undermine their businesses for their own financial gain. We force the relevant internet service providers to reveal the identity of the person behind the malicious campaign.

The adage that 'today's news is yesterday's fish and chip paper' no longer stands, and without swift and authoritative action, reputational damage incurred online can remain accessible for years to come. Our team is dedicated to finding innovative solutions to this evolving challenge. 

Ramona Mehta
Partner, Mishcon Private

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