The Obscenity list was one of the first automatic classification lists my team built into our Summation databases back in the bad old Enron days. We were one of the first defendants forced to search and review native raw email from the Exchange journal. Energy traders had filthy mouths and it was an easy way to spot heightened emotions. We also learned to route those emails to reviewers who were not easily offended. It should not surprise you that Microsoft 365 can identify and review communications via an Offensive Language Model. Detection, audit and remediation of offensive language should be a standard compliance process in any publicly owned company to minimize the risk of harassment suits and other potential hostile workplace actions. Interestingly enough, you can block these words in chat and other messaging channels using DLP and transport rules. The problem with blocking them at the source is that you are disabling your compliance filters. The meeting attendees still hear the obscenity, but Teams default profanity blocking redacts those words it understands with helpful “**** you” Asterixes from the transcript.
Following my ‘trust but verify’ motto, I set up a solo Teams meeting to test the theory. I turned on the Compliance Supervision to identify and flag profanity. In the meeting with CC/Transcription enabled, I let loose with a few choice profanities. Teams did not catch them all, but it did redact the worst. None of these showed up in the compliance log. Transcript example below. As a bonus, here is a nice compiled list of profanity.
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The key takeaway is to know the M365 defaults and have Legal participate in change management for primary data systems to catch unexpected consequences of new automated functionality. I can see some edge case scenarios where key evidence might be excluded from searches or even be ‘spoliated’ by these suppression filters. What if this was a contentious BoD meeting that resulted down the line in a lawsuit. Most companies are putting very short retention on meeting videos and others are trying to automatically keep transcripts as the ‘official record’. So you could have the transcript, but not the video depending on when the hold was placed and your default retention periods. MSFT is not making this easy as they are rearchitecting the Teams storage infrastructure. Just getting your transcripts is hard enough right now in most M365 tenants.
My apologies for the recent writing slow down. I took a much-needed vacation. Check out a few of my favorite diving pictures here. More up every day as I scrounge time to post-process them.
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