Non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, are gagging clauses – invented to prevent departing employees running off with intellectual property

Today, their use is a modus operandi for powerful men such as Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump to silence victims…
But their reach extends far beyond even that: these days, they’re used to hush up bad practice at almost every level, in the church, academia, politics, hospitals and construction
A BBC survey in 2020 found that about six students a month signed NDAs with British universities…
Meanwhile a 2018 investigation found that ten employees a year were being issued with gagging clauses in the House of Commons…
Zelda Perkins, Harvey Weinstein’s London assistant, was under one of these NDAs. It prevented her from reporting Weinstein’s attempted rape of Miramax employee Rowena Chiu in 1998

This gag allowed him to continue as a sexual predator for nearly two more decades
The terms of her NDA are astonishing:

Negotiated over one 12-hour session, Perkins secured a number of safeguards in which Weinstein would be closely monitored for harassment. But in return, her and Chiu were banned from contacting each other for the rest of their lives
She was not allowed to talk about what had happened to her family, partner or closest friends; she was not allowed to talk to a therapist or a doctor unless those people sought and got permission for their own NDA from Miramax
Perkins was ultimately the first victim to risk breaking her NDA in 2017

Now, she’s leading a new campaign, Can’t Buy My Silence, and believes the way confidentiality clauses are now used amounts to a gag on democracy
Is it making a difference?

Under Theresa May, the government branded the use of NDAs in such a manner “unlawful discrimination" and committed to legal reform

Since then, legislation has been quietly shelved. What changed?

“Boris,” Perkins says
Julie Macfarlane grew up in Britain, but is now a law professor in Canada and one of the world’s experts on NDAs

 In 2014 she took legal action against the Anglican church and won assurances that it would no longer seek NDAs for victims of clerical abuse…
“This is why I am so focused on legislation,” says Macfarlane, the co-founder of Can’t Buy My Silence. “Unless you have a law that actually bans it, it can go on in the shadows.”…

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