Make us your home page
Instagram
Working | New trend

Bring-your-device-to-work days

MINNEAPOLIS — To keep up with the times, companies are allowing their employees to use personal smartphones and tablet computers at work. But the trend, called "bring your own device," creates data security issues and also can lead to disputes about paying workers overtime. Teresa Thompson, a lawyer with the Minneapolis firm of Fredrikson & Byron, explains.

Q: Why are companies allowing employees to bring their own smartphones, tablet computers and other gadgets to work?

A: There are two reasons. One is they can't stop it. The other is that companies want to have increased connectivity between employees and work. Employees who are willing to use their own devices will work more and be more connected.

Q: How can companies allow employees to "bring your own device" and still maintain computer network security?

A: The company's IT folks can have security policies. They can say you must have your device password protected. They can demand that you encrypt the data on the device. Or they can do what IBM did — have the IT department put security software on the employee's device that limits access to the corporate network.

Q: Doesn't using your own gadgets for work raise the issue of overtime pay?

A: If it's an exempt employee, such as a lawyer who's supposed to work all the time, it's not an issue. But hourly workers have to be paid overtime if they work it.

There are currently class-action suits in the courts dealing with employees who used their own devices to log into work computers or to send corporate email, didn't log the work at the time, then later claimed overtime. If you don't clock the time of employees who can be paid overtime, you're looking for legal trouble.

Q: How does bringing your own device affect the legal requirements that companies maintain a historical record of their email in case there's a lawsuit?

A: If employees are using company email accounts, those emails are still maintained on the company's servers. But if the employees are using personal email for work-related communications, then you've got a problem. Electronic discovery (searching past email for information relevant to a lawsuit) is expensive, and if you have to go to Facebook or LinkedIn or a personal email account, you're going to have to pay a lot of money to experts to get that email back.

Q: Are there any benefits to companies if they let employees bring their own devices to work, such as cutting the cost of buying everyone a smartphone?

A: There are no benefits to employers. It increases risk, and while it might cut the costs of purchasing devices for employees, it increases the costs of what you have to do to get your information back if someone leaves the company.

Q: What happens to the information on an employee smartphone or tablet computer when that person leaves the company?

A: You shut down that person's computer network account when he or she leaves. But whatever is stored on that personal device is still there. And what if the employee backed up the smartphone to a home computer, as I do?

We recommend that companies have a policy that the employee agrees to let the company remove everything company-related from the smartphone or other device, and that the employee also agrees not to save that company information to any other system. Sometimes a company policy will take it further, and say the employer has the right to inspect the person's home computer.

But it's all so new that, at this point, about 75 percent of employers don't have policies or procedures to ensure that data on personal devices doesn't walk away with employees when they leave.

Q: What about the flip side —could the software already on a personal smartphone or tablet computer hurt the employer?

A: Yes. The IT department at our law firm told us not to use Siri, the iPhone personal assistant software. The problem is that information you give Siri is stored on Apple's servers. If I dictate an email to a client while Siri is activated, the content of that client communication is being stored by Apple, and I don't know what they'll do with it.

Bring-your-device-to-work days 09/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 8, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Marina at Hudson Beach poised to become 24-unit condominium-hotel

    Business

    HUDSON — One of the mainstay businesses at Hudson Beach is poised for redevelopment into a 24-unit condominium-hotel.

  2. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  3. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone

    Macdill

    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?
  4. New apartment complex delivers unique floor plans



    Business

    RIVERVIEW — A new luxury apartment community has opened in the Progress Village area touting itself as a distinct living option just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.

    Alta at Magnolia Park dubs its new apartment community, that opened earlier this year in Riverview, a modern and distinct option for living just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]