We are a small team of developers working on a web app. I answer directly to the company directors, who are responsible for hiring decisions. As a cost saving measure, new developers are often hired from countries such as India, Nigeria and Nepal.
Due to the potential difficulties in legally pursuing someone from such countries, the directors are unwilling to give these new developers access to the codebase, even with a watertight NDA.
This comes from the belief that they have spent £x thousand on development costs so far (where x is a big number), and they do not want someone to be able to take the thing they have spent so much money on.
This leaves me with the difficult problem of "How can I make the developers produce any useful work, without being able to steal the codebase".
If someone is invested enough, if they can see the codebase, they can steal it. We have been down routes of working on remote virtual machines, where the ability to copy-paste is limited etc, but even then, they could take a photograph on their mobile phone and type it up themselves. (I agree this is extreme, but I want to explore their request as much as possible).
I'm therefore left with the problem "How can I make the developers produce any useful work, without being able to see the codebase". Which seems like a nonsense statement. How could this possibly be satisfied?
When I explain this to the directors, I am often met with "well how do Microsoft stop people stealing their code?". Which I'll admit is a question I don't really know the answer to, but I suspect it is something to do with not hiring people who would be difficult to legally pursue.
My question is therefore:
- How can I satisfy their request (is there something I have missed?)
- How can I explain that the request is unsatisfiable