The Bring Your Own Device philosophy has been a growing practice in most workplaces that realizes the value of letting employees use mobile technology in the workplace. But as with other technology, sometimes the wow factor convenience of the technology turns off associative problems that are potentially complex. Nowhere is that more the case than in the hidden legal issues behind the BYOD concept. In fact, some of those problems could potentially bring litigation prolonging for years if also bringing up lengthy arguments on privacy.
These issues are worth considering if you’ve decided to enact a BYOD policy recently in your company. You may want to have a devoted legal team on your side if these legal situations happen to you or one of your employees.
The Threat of Wiping Personal Data
Network World recently reported on these legal issues and noting the challenges of employees loading software on personal smartphones. While this brings some efficiency to your office, what happens when that employee leaves and licensed software has to be removed from their phones? This could technically destroy personal information on their phones along with the data wipe. Even if smartphones and tablets in the office arguably shouldn’t contain personal information, it’s inevitable that many of them will.
This alone could create lawsuits between you and your former employees for destroying their personal data. The same can apply to government investigations of your company that could mean turning over all the mobile devices used during a given time period. While you may have all your emails and other data archived, employees needing to turn over their smartphones for inspection can bring up some complicated privacy issues. Would lawyers have the right to peer into your employees’ phones where loads of personal information could be compromised?
These situations alone could end up tying up lawsuits for years in the arguments. Don’t be surprised if the privacy issues would eventually end up in the Supreme Court as the BYOD policy becomes more ubiquitous.
You should think about what kind of overtime you may have to pay employees if they work on their smartphones at home that they use at work. This is projected to be another legal problem in employee contracts. If you don’t recognize overtime, an employee could potentially sue you for unpaid overtime. It’s one reason why you should enact a policy where you don’t allow employees to work on those BYOD smartphones at home unless there’s an agreement of paying overtime.
Lawsuits could also ensue by employees if you don’t set up a more efficient security policy. Personal information could be compromised or destroyed if the Wi-Fi signal isn’t secure enough and causes hackers to gain access or cause data loss. This is already an issue with BYOD policies and one that needs to evolve into better security monitoring from IT departments. Considering how scattered bringing smartphones and tablets can be in a company, they should all be accounted for so a disaster isn’t blamed on your lax management.