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Sign and shut up! Confidentiality agreements are everywhere



“Sign here, my stallion,” display the New York Magazine on this baroque and tastelessly bad front page. The bimonthly tackles a very serious subject: non-disclosure agreements (“NDAs” in English) of which the fiery lovers on the cover each hold a copy. “Shush, shush”, This seems to be the watchword of the time, taken up in the title of the article of a.

For these obscure legal documents, requiring silence in exchange for a quid pro quo, have permeated many areas of American life, observed journalist Reeves Wiedeman, who has experienced them himself, whether it’s reading a book of poetry before publication or attending a wedding.

“No one can say how many such agreements are signed every day, since they often prohibit discussion of their own existence, but lawyers who deal with them attest that these tedious jumbles of legalese, once reserved for protecting trade secrets, are now among the most common contracts in the world. One study says a third of American workers have signed one; another says more like half.”

“Non-disclosure agreements are offered to roommates, parents, boyfriends, wedding guests and bachelor party guests.”

In the corporate world, concerned about reducing risks, these agreements would now be present in all sectors. And they no longer only target executives and other employees with access to the most sensitive information, explains New York Magazine.

Public authorities are also protecting themselves. “In London, a 70-year-old woman convinced her local council to dim some street lights that were stopping her from sleeping. She was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement so as not to give other residents ideas.”

In Hollywood and Beyond

But confidentiality agreements now also regulate intimate relationships. “In fact, celebrities have been suggesting them to their romantic partners for years,” writes the magazine. Some cases have become famous: that of the actress Stormy Daniels, of course, to keep quiet about her alleged relationship with Donald Trump. The one that Brad Pitt allegedly had Angelina Jolie sign. Or those that systematically used Harvey Weinstein.

Among the Hollywood stars, “wanting to kiss without paperwork has become cavalier”, the magazine quips. And now, “Even people who are not famous are starting to use confidentiality agreements.”

The advent of social networks, shaming and some cancel culture is not unrelated to this phenomenon. “At a time when it has never been easier to publicly cast opprobrium, people are looking for a little extra insurance against the risk of being erased,” summarizes the journalist.

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