Business Litigation Alert: "Opting to 'Bring Your Own Device'"

Merging the Line Between Personal and Work

Companies are increasingly allowing employees to “bring your own device” (BYOD) to work. While BYOD gives employees flexibility and choice, and could be cost-effective in lowering a company’s technology and training expenses, it presents many privacy concerns for a business to consider. For example,

What information can be accessed or wiped from the device by the employer?

Who is responsible if the device is lost or stolen?

What happens to personal data on the device if the employee is terminated or leaves the company?

Given these issues, a company should prepare and implement a BYOD policy that includes the following:

  • A security policy. Detail specific measures the company will take to protect its data and identify occasions for monitoring and accessing an employee’s device, including:
    • Employee consent for the company to access and monitor the device for security measures (i.e., security risks, employee misconduct, breach of contract).
    • Registration of the device with the company’s IT department to ensure the security settings and installed software comply with company practice.
    • Password protection.
    • Define what is allowed to be backed-up to a cloud-based storage program.
  • A list of approved devices and apps. Make clear which cell phones and tablets your company will support as well as which applications an employee can download and install (or alternatively which apps are banned). This will help prevent employees from downloading an application that presents a security threat or legal risk.
  • A clear definition of who owns what. A BYOD device will almost certainly have personal pictures, music, and applications. If it is lost, stolen, or an employee leaves the company, make it clear how the company will wipe the device. The policy should inform employees that they may be required to wipe the entire device if personal and company data are intermixed.

As employees continue to use their own mobile devices in the workplace, a well thought out BYOD policy can help protect valuable company information and trade secrets, while giving employees the flexibility and choice many want.

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