Board warns of ‘enemies’ spying on its meetings

By Marcus Dysch, June 14, 2013

Live online broadcasting of Board of Deputies meetings has provided greater scrutiny of the organisation’s work, but could allow “hostile activists” to spy on the community.

A decision on whether to continue the streaming of meetings is due to be taken by deputies this Sunday following a controversial trial of video technology over the past year.

In a risk assessment report, Board executives admitted that “hostile activists could watch broadcasts and gather intelligence on communal activities”, but conceded that JC reports of meetings would allow similar opportunities to the Board’s “enemies”.

Members of the Board’s finance and organisation division who have been considering the benefits of the streaming system, have voted unanimously for it to continue. A motion to be proposed at Sunday’s plenary meeting will ask deputies to ratify the decision.

The report said the trial had allowed “all Jews to understand the decisions taken by the Board” and to “see how meetings are conducted”.

But it acknowledged that there was greater potential for embarrassment if poor conduct at meetings was aired live.

“Adverse comments by deputies could cause reputational damage or be subject to legal action,” the report warned.

A password system was considered in an attempt to restrict from recording, editing or rebroadcasting sections of meetings, but the Board concluded that such measures would not “prevent determined hostile viewers”, but may discourage “legitimate” viewers.

During the trial, deputies who did not want to be shown in the online broadcasts were given the option of speaking at a microphone which could not be heard outside the meeting room and from a position which was hidden from the camera.

The practice is expected to continue despite complaints that it made the system unworkable, with deputies’ comments being reported by journalists and tweeted by other deputies nonetheless.

Last updated: 1:45pm, June 14 2013