Canada: BYOD & The Board Of Directors - Part One: A Risk To Reckon With?

Last Updated: March 25 2013
Article by Timothy Banks

The information security concerns relating to employees using their own devices for work (such as smart phones, netbooks and laptops) are a hot topic. Although "bring your own device" or BYOD is here to stay, the practice of employees using their own devices for employment duties creates information governance challenges.

What about the role of BYOD at the level of the board of directors? Corporate officers, including the corporate secretary, frequently communicate with board members through electronic means. Directors are also likely to communicate with one another between meetings through electronic means. It is not uncommon that these electronic communications may include preliminary evaluation of strategic matters, legal advice, draft employee compensation arrangements, material contracts and draft financial reports.

This post examines some of the duties of directors with respect to the use of their own devices and email accounts. Subsequent posts will set out the case for a board information governance policy and examine some of the elements of such a policy.

Is it really a problem?

Before dismissing the information governance challenges related to electronic board communications, consider the following questions:

  • How often is information sent to directors at personal email addresses or to email addresses belonging to other companies that may employ the director?
  • Does the corporation have a good handle on the device and security standards being used by directors when they are handling some of the most sensitive material non-public information of the corporation?
  • What assurance is there that third-party technology policies do not create rights in the information sent to those third-party accounts, such as, for example, when a director is employed by another company?
  • What happens if confidential information is retrieved and stored on a director's personal device and the device is lost or stolen or lacks security protection? Is the device capable of being wiped?

A director's duty of to protect corporate information

A director has a duty to bring the care, diligence and skill of a reasonably prudent person to the protection of confidential corporate information.

Directors owe a statutory duty of care in fulfilling their obligations to the corporation. Paragraph 122(b) of the Canada Business Corporations Act, RSC 1985, c C-44 (CBCA), for example, provides that directors and officers must "exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances".

In addition to the duty of care, directors of Canadian business corporations owe a duty of loyalty to the corporation. The duty of loyalty is a common law duty that has been incorporated into most corporate legislation in Canada. For example, paragraph 122(a) of the CBCA provides that every director must act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the corporation.

The Supreme Court of Canada has described this "statutory fiduciary duty" as including a duty to maintain the confidentiality of information acquired by being a director. This statutory duty also typically prohibits directors from using information acquired by virtue of their position for personal gain.

Even leaving aside the fiduciary duties of a director, a duty of confidence may arise anytime a person receives information that has a quality of confidence about it in circumstances in which there is an express or implied obligation of confidentiality.

Issues for directors to consider

The care, diligence and skill to be exercised by a reasonably prudent director depend on the circumstances. There is, therefore, no single prescriptive information governance practice that will fulfil a director's statutory duty of care. The types of controls that a director may wish to consider deploying depend on the sensitivity of the information and its importance to the corporation.

Below is a checklist of questions that a director may wish to review as part of determining whether the director's information governance practices are consistent with, and capable of, fulfilling the director's duties of confidentiality to the corporation.

Device and Network Security

  • Is the device only used by the director or is it shared with other people, such as family members?
  • Are all devices on which the director views electronic communications and material secured by a strong password (at least 8 characters containing at least one number, one capitalized letter and one symbol) and protected by anti-virus software that is frequently updated?
  • Are all devices on which the director stores corporate information encrypted? If not, are there particular types of information that should not be stored on those devices, such as personal information of employees and officers or material non-public information relating to merger discussions or financial results?
  • Is the device enabled with a remote wiping technology in the even that it is lost or stolen?
  • Is the director using the device when connected to wifi? Does the director use secure wifi connections? Is the director's home network protected by a firewall?

Account and Information Security

  • Does the director access information through a secure portal? If not, are there particular types of sensitive information that should only be available in this way?
  • Is the director receiving information through an email address to which others have access, such as an administrative assistant? Should those third parties be bound by a confidentiality agreement?
  • Is the director receiving information at a personal email address or an email address belonging to another corporation? If so, is this appropriate for all types of information? Do the terms of service of the personal email address provider or the terms of use of another corporation's email policy permit access to the email account by third parties? Are those third parties governed by confidentiality agreements?
  • Is the email account protected by a strong password? Is email encrypted when transmitted? Are email and other electronic records encrypted when stored?
  • Is the email address provided as part of a cloud-based service? If so, does the director understand what limitations there are on that service?
  • Does the director have the technical skills to understand whether information retained on the device is being collected, used or stored by other applications without the director's knowledge?

Document Management

  • Is the director storing electronic records on a third-party's system? If so, are the records password protected or logically separated from records that can be viewed by others? For example, are records received by the director stored on his or her employer's systems in a manner that would permit others to view or otherwise inspect those records?
  • Does the director print material? Is that material stored in a secure location? Who else has access to the information?

Records Retention

  • Does the director have the technical and administrative capability to comply with the corporation's records retention policy? For example, does the corporation's records retention policy require retention of emails between directors about the corporation's business for a defined period of time? Is the director able to ensure compliance?
  • If the director is using the email or electronic storage services of another corporation in which he serves as an employee, will the director have access to that email if he or she is no longer employed by that corporation? If not, has provision been made to migrate those records in the event of retirement or dismissal?

Litigation

  • Does the director have the technical and administrative capability to comply with a litigation hold in the event that litigation arises and records created, retained or received by the director are responsive to the issues in the litigation?
  • Has the director mixed personal and business uses on the device in a way that will make it more likely that the director's personal records or records relating to his or her duties to another corporation will need to be inspected in the event the device must be produced for litigation purposes?
  • These issues may be daunting for directors. However, there are technological solutions. Directors may wish to consider more structured ways to receive board information, such as through secure portals or third-party cloud based board communication service providers.

In subsequent posts on this topic, I'll look at these issues from the perspective of the corporation embarking on creating information governance policies for the board.

For more information, visit our Data Governance Law blog at www.datagovernancelaw.com

About Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC)

FMC is one of Canada's leading business and litigation law firms with more than 500 lawyers in six full-service offices located in the country's key business centres. We focus on providing outstanding service and value to our clients, and we strive to excel as a workplace of choice for our people. Regardless of where you choose to do business in Canada, our strong team of professionals possess knowledge and expertise on regional, national and cross-border matters. FMC's well-earned reputation for consistently delivering the highest quality legal services and counsel to our clients is complemented by an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion to broaden our insight and perspective on our clients' needs. Visit: www.fmc-law.com

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
14 Nov 2018, Other, Toronto, Canada

Save the date. It’s that time of the year to mark your calendars for the opportunity to earn the rest of your CPD credits all in one day!

27 Nov 2018, Other, Toronto, Canada

Dentons is pleased to sponsor the Global Property Market Forum taking place November 27, 2018 in Toronto.

30 Nov 2018, Conference, Toronto, Canada

Dentons is proud to be the presenting sponsor for Autonomous Vehicle P3s: Visions of the Future at this year’s CCPPP conference in Toronto on Nov 5-6, 2018.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions