Smartphones at Work: Potential Legal Risks

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Smartphones at Work: Potential Legal Risks

The increased affordability of smartphones and other mobile devices has led employees to use those devices in their personal lives as well as in the workplace. Although some employers may offer employees devices owned by the company, employees may prefer not to carry both their own personal devices along with company devices. Employees may choose to have only one device because they can often work remotely, and it is simply more feasible for them to have just one device.

Employers who wish to comply with employee requests, and minimize costs, may implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies that require employees to use their personal devices for work purposes. However, such policies run the risk of exposing employers to several risks. They can also have a harmful effect on employee privacy.

Risks Faced by Employers

One of the risks faced by employers is the loss of control of company data when employees use their personal devices and networks to store and communicate company data. Companies may have business and legal reasons to protect several kinds of sensitive information, including facts and data relevant to human resources and health, confidential or privileged information relevant to legal concerns, financial information, proprietary data and trade secrets, and client or marketing lists.

Companies must consider many laws and regulations when forming a BYOD policy. Such laws include those involving the following:

Before implementing a BYOD policy, it is advisable for a company to deal with a number of legal and human resources concerns, including the following:

Loss of Security

A major concern of employers is the loss of security in the event that an employee loses a device that contains sensitive company data. Errors by the employee can also result in loss of company information. Such errors include use of an unsecured wi-fi network, neglecting to password protect a device, and permitting the phone to be discoverable by Bluetooth. If these mistakes are made, there is an increase in the risk of someone gaining access to important company data.

Risks Faced by Employees

Employees are also faced with risks when they are required to adhere to a BYOD policy, not the least of which is access by the company to employees’ personal information on the device. If the employee loses the phone, or it is stolen, as a security measure, the company may delete all data from the phone, including the employee’s personal photos, videos, downloads, and contacts.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

If you are an employee, and are concerned about privacy issues with respect to a BYOD policy, or if you are an employer, and have security concerns, consult an employment lawyer.

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Last Modified: 06-10-2014 02:47 PM PDT

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