United States: Bring Your Own Device Policies: What Employers Need to Know

Last Updated: February 22 2014
Article by Paul G. Lannon

Paul G. Lannon, Partner, Boston; Phillip Schreiber, Partner, Chicago

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Employers that allow their employees to use their own mobile devices for work purposes should have in place well-considered Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
  • Effective employer BYOD policies anticipate and address a range of privacy, security and other issues that can arise when employees use laptops, smart phones, tablets and other devices at work.

Technology advances so quickly that most employers cannot keep pace as nimbly as their employees can. Capitalizing on that fact, many employers now permit their employees to purchase and use the mobile devices of their choice as a cost-effective alternative to using only company-owned or company-issued equipment. This development raises operational and legal issues that proactive employers will want to address.

What is a Bring Your Own Device policy?

BYOD refers to a policy implemented by employers to address situations where employees use personally owned, mobile, electronic devices for work-related purposes. Such devices include laptops, smart phones, tablets and similar technology. Their use may be voluntary or required by employers.

On the upside, allowing employees to use personal devices can improve efficiency, effectiveness and morale. On the downside, the practice raises serious security and privacy concerns, among others. A well-crafted policy will balance these competing concerns.

Why are BYOD policies important?

Even though more and more employees are using their own mobile devices to perform their job duties inside and outside the office, too often the employers' policies have not been updated to address this latest workplace development. Without an updated and well-thought-out BYOD policy, employers face various challenges. Here are just a few examples:

  • A company suffers a massive data breach after an employee fails to report a lost laptop.
  • Borrowing a mother's tablet to play computer games, a child accidentally downloads a virus into an employer's computer network.
  • A terminated employee refuses to remove trade secret information stored on his device.
  • A former employee threatens legal action after his personal information is remotely wiped from his smart phone.

What are some employee concerns?

Loss of privacy and electronic information are typically the two biggest concerns employees have. Although the use of personal mobile devices for work-related purposes offers employees greater convenience, flexibility and other advantages, it also puts at risk personal data and programs stored on or accessed through the device. Employees are concerned about unauthorized or inappropriate access to or use of personal information, particularly financial and health data. Employees are also concerned about the loss of their electronic information (e.g., photographs, videos, contacts, etc.) when employers attempt to remove or "wipe" business information from the employee's device, which can be done remotely with some technologies. In addition, the lack of clear guidance from employers can result in disciplinary actions or financial losses to employees that might otherwise be prevented.

What are some employer concerns?

The primary concern of most employers is security. The use of personal mobile devices increases the risks of unauthorized access, disclosure or destruction of business data. Minimizing these risks is paramount.

A related concern is liability for a data breach, particularly those involving access to personally identifiable financial or health information. Personal devices may also be used to disparage employers through social media or to harass or bully coworkers in cyberspace.

To the extent that nonexempt employees use personal mobile devices, the employer may also face exposure under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or similar state statutes for failure to compensate those employees for overtime. If nonexempt employees are using these devices for work-related purposes outside their normal work hours, the employer may be required to pay them overtime compensation.

What should employers do?

Employers should develop and disseminate a comprehensive BYOD policy that includes regular training and monitoring. There is no standard or one size fits all BYOD policy. What policy terms are best for a particular employer will depend on several factors, including the nature of the employer's business, the extent of Information Technology (IT) support, and the type of data that needs protection. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the key features of a comprehensive BYOD policy:

  • Decide which classes of employees will be permitted to use their own mobile devices.
  • Require nonexempt employees to obtain prior authorization for use of mobile devices for business purposes outside normal business hours and to keep track of their time spent on business matters.
  • Require employees to agree with acceptable use terms when they first connect with the employer's computer network.
  • Establish reasonable expectations for privacy and security.
  • Affirmatively state the employer's rights to access, monitor and delete information from the employee owned devices.
  • Consider mobile device management (MDM) technology that creates a virtual partition in the device separating work data from personal data.
  • Provide reasonable notice to employees when the employer's data will be "wiped" from personal devices.
  • Require strong passwords and automatic locking after short periods of inactivity.
  • Establish protocols for reporting lost or stolen devices.
  • Require certain antivirus and protective software.
  • Require or strongly encourage regular backups.
  • Address costs and expenses for employee owned devices.
  • Consider keeping a registry of all employee owned devices being used for business purposes.
  • Consider designating in advance approved equipment and software.
  • Designate person(s) responsible for authorizing software and other downloads.
  • Identify a point of contact and resources for questions about the policy.

An effective BYOD policy is not a short paragraph in the employee handbook crafted by the Human Resources department. It is a collaborative effort involving input from IT, Human Resources, risk management, operations and legal counsel.

For more information about BYOD policies and advice about how best to incorporate them in your business, please contact the authors or your Holland & Knight counsel.

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
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Foley Hoag LLP
Fisher Phillips LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Foley Hoag LLP
Fisher Phillips LLP
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