Header graphic for print
Inside Privacy Updates on Developments in Global Privacy & Data Security from Covington & Burling LLP

BYOD’s Rapid Growth Presents New Legal Challenges

Posted in Data Security, Emerging Technologies, Mobile, Privacy Policies, United States

Companies are increasingly allowing employees to access work email and apps on their personal devices, according to a new Gartner survey of chief information officers.  But employers confront many tough policy and legal questions when they adopt Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”) programs.

Thirty-eight percent of the CIOs said that their organizations will stop providing laptops, smartphones, and tablets to workers by 2016.  Those employees will have to access work networks via their personal devices through BYOD programs.  Forty-five percent of the CIOs expect to require BYOD by 2020.

“Everybody in every industry is looking at how they can leverage the Bring Your Own Device program,” David Willis, Gartner’s Chief of Research for Mobility and Communications, stated on a web conference today.

According to the survey, employers in the United States and Asia-Pacific region lead BYOD adoption, while Europe lags behind.

BYOD programs present substantial savings for employers, Willis said.  Although employers typically reimburse employees for part of their monthly smartphone bills, those payments are not nearly as high as the costs of employer-issued devices, he said.  Additionally, he noted that many employers offer BYOD programs to meet the “incredibly employee demand for using the device they prefer in work.”

Before offering BYOD, Willis said, employers should carefully examine all legal implications, including the taxation of device stipends, whether labor laws prohibit hourly employees from responding to work emails after-hours, and data security and privacy laws.  In particular, Willis noted that employees must be aware that if litigation arises, the employees may be required to turn over their devices during discovery.