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Periscope.. LIVE streaming from the workplace

Periscope and Mearkat are live streaming apps that are creating ripples in the broadcasting world. Anybody with a modern smartphone can launch the app and live stream what is happening in front of them to an audience of thousands, if not millions

The reason for these industry ripples is that the technology enables someone to broadcast events, media or concerts (irrespective of whether they have the necessary rights or consent) to a large audience.

When you potentially have a user-base of millions using this app, and each broadcast can have a 1:many reach, the concurrent viewers can get exponentially large. This is very difficult to police – and given the geographic breadth of the user-base, who can police it?

Although live streaming has been around for over 10 years, it is the accessibility, easy-of-use and tight integration with social networks that set Periscope and Mearkat apart from the old skool way of doing things.

Live steaming in the work place..

This potentially has a profound impact on the workplace.

Wind back 10 years and it is fair to say the company board would have issue if someone brought in a tripod, camera, video encoder and wireless uplink to start recording events in the office; today that can be done with a HTC smart phone!

Many businesses go to great lengths to ensure the confidentiality of their operations and their customer data; clear desk policies, data protection training, web-filters, door access control, staff manuals, security policies, private meeting rooms etc. Despite these controls – Periscope could open up your business to the masses.

The likelihood is a staff member wouldn’t deliberately set out to jeopardise your business.

Hey guys, here is my desk, here is my PC! Today is going to be a busy day, check out how many e-mails I have in my Inbox!! This particular guy has been giving me grief all day!

124 people from locations as diverse as Canada, Sri Lanka and Vietnam observe with interest his surroundings, his Outlook inbox and CRM system. Deliberate? No. Conceivable? Yes. The repercussions could be from data protection, customers themselves or through other events inferred from this broadcast or broadcasts.

This is our secure datacentre. I enter my pin on the door-panel, go through security and look at our customer racks. These guys (client name observable on the rack) have massive storage. Check out this core router! This server has been having issues all day.

Dirty laundry

Events with a more sinister undertone are equally as possible. Disgruntled staff members recording (supposedly private) events or meetings as they unfold, with the other delegates blissfully unaware of their new far stardom. Live streamed clandestine filming, the possibilities are endless.

Block, block, not.

Modern firewalls and security devices can recognise emerging applications and block their access to the internet at the network edge. Technologies such as Skype, IM, video apps and the use of which have been controlled in the enterprise for many years. Periscope and Mearkat are set to appear on that controlled list, that is – if they don’t already.

This is great news if ubiquitous 4G and high speed mobile wasn’t so prevalent nowadays. Who’s to say staff would choose to use your corporate WIFI or network – when they have 10Mbps 4G network signal, without barriers or filters to contend with. Perhaps your BYOD policy prevents them from using your WIFI, so they already use 4G!

Technology to the rescue… not quite

In the absence of a technical solution then a business needs to rely on the tried and tested use of training, staff awareness, the staff manual and security policies. Internet access policies, security policies, mobile device use and BYOD policies all need to address this new phenomena. If you don’t have them – then you really should.

Businesses should consider addressing the attempted use of streaming apps in the workplace by specifically prohibiting their use in the security policy and staff manual. Naturally – staff should be aware of such restrictions. If not prohibiting their use, advising the staff of the risks.


Even with the cautious undertone that exists throughout this post, Periscope and Mearkat are great technologies and they are examples of modern technologies that businesses should look to embrace.

Marketing firms and creative agencies are adapting their strategies to include the use of live streaming; broadcasting corporate events, streaming product launches and driving customer engagement are just some applications.

Given the legitimate uses of these technologies, any corporate policy needs to recognise the valid use of these apps or run the risk of a contradictory stance.

As a minimum, businesses should at least recognise the growth of these technologies and consider the impact (if any) that these apps could have on their operations and corporate responsibilities.


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Joe Hughes is the CEO of Manx Technology Group. Joe has a background in software development, information security, networks, datacentres and enterprise IT.
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