Biz Rules

To BYOD or Not to BYOD?

Bringing your own device to work requires strong company policy.

By Kevin Allen July 11, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Let’s face it: Our smartphones have become appendages—so much so that the same phone we use to play “Candy Crush” is also tempting us to check work email during family time. This is all due to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) tech trend.

A 2015 Tech Pro Research study found that 74 percent of organizations currently allow or plan to eventually allow BYOD.  It’s great news for device makers, but it presents a potential legal hazard.

Sarasota attorney Jennifer Compton of the law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, who specializes in employment law, says once a business allows BYOD, it triggers a variety of employment issues.

Compton lists “everything from working hours being expanded to network security concerns to conveying confidential or proprietary information, as well as what happens when the employees leave.”

“On the employee side,” Compton says, “they want to make sure their personal email and other information aren’t something the employer will be able to access. They also want to make sure at the end of employment that their phone isn’t going to be scrubbed.”

The solution? Setting a strong BYOD policy.

Sarasota-based IT provider SouthTech makes its BYOD policy part of its employee handbook, and employees are required to acknowledge that they have reviewed the policy. The firm also advises its clients to do the same.

“Because of the power of the mobile devices to connect to and access company data, it’s critical that businesses outline proper use of mobile devices (both company owned and personal) that will connect to corporate networks and/or access company information,” SouthTech vice president of operations Nathan Bailey says.

While some states have BYOD laws on the books, Florida does not—and Compton says there’s not much on the federal side either. “There’s not a specific statute I can point you to because it doesn’t exist,” she says.

For now, that means any BYOD-related legal matters are covered by case law, and the first thing the court will consider in its ruling is the company’s policy.

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