Margaret A. Keane has written an interesting article on the growing use of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies by employers whose employees use mobile devices for work purposes. These policies trade support for employee mobile devices from the employer’s IT organization for, among other things, regulation of “the use of mobile devices in ways that may implicate . . . workplace policies, such as data privacy and security, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination, confidentiality and trade secret protection, records management and compliance with litigation holds.” This trade involves a balancing of employee privacy interests and employer needs for security. Keane describes policies that require return of the device, or production for inspection, upon demand by the employer, and return of the device, with data intact, upon separation from employment. Other authors have recommended similar provisions.
For employers interested in protecting their confidential information and trade secrets, these policy provisions make sense. The growing use of mobile devices in the workplace has been accompanied by a growing loss of employer control over information. BYOD policies are simply a tool to protect employer data in the face of this threat.