In the film, Ex Machina, an employee must sign the non-disclosure agreement before beginning work on a secret project. The agreement states:

The signee agrees to regular data audit with unlimited access, to confirm that no disclosure of information has taken place, in public or private forums, using any means of communication, including but not limited to that which is disclosed orally or in written or in electronic form.

Is this legal? Do similar NDAs actually exist? How do "data audits" work when applied to an individual?

2 Answers 2


US law as well as English and other Commonwealth countries don't recognize contracts as "legal" or "lawful." The issue to be addressed in any contract dispute is whether the particular clause is "enforceable," meaning that a court would choose to enforce the clause. The clause you have quoted would likely be enforceable in a US court, presuming that the judge or jury had determined the party against whom the clause should be enforced was competent to freely enter into an agreement with the other party (the one seeking enforcement).

"Data audit" would be interpreted based on the mutual understanding of the parties. This sort of contract term is interpreted based on how it may be used by similar individuals within the particular professional field the agreement covers, eg computer coders, AI designers, scientists etc. If there were a court dispute over what this meant, each party would call expert witnesses from the field to establish what the standard professional interpretation of such a phrase would comprise.


You can contract to do anything so long as it is not illegal. AFAIK nothing in this clause is illegal.

As for how a data audit works, that is not a legal question: try stack exchange.

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