Legal briefing: The rise of ‘bring your own device’

Sarah Burke. Thomas Eggar
Sarah Burke. Thomas Eggar

WITH sales of tablets and smartphones on the rise, it is no surprise that many employees are now ‘bringing their own devices’ to work.

Even where employees are not actually taking their devices in to the office, they may be syncing their smartphones and tablets to their employers’ systems.

Allowing BYOD can be beneficial in that it can allow for greater flexibility, has the potential to reduce business costs and can help ensure that employees are more easily contactable out of hours.

However, employers are quickly realising that there are some particular challenges presented by BYOD which are capable of having a serious impact on the business.

A key characteristic of BYOD is that personal and business data are stored on the same device.

This throws up potential risks under data privacy laws as other people’s data controlled or processed by the business will likely end up stored on employees’ personal devices, which, if lost or stolen, significantly increases the risk of a data privacy breach.

The biggest challenge with BYOD is the consequent loss of control over company data.

Once stored on a personal device, data is only as secure as the security measures in place on that device.

Generally, the law provides that the rights in works created by employees in the course of their employment are owned by the employer.

However, it will be more difficult for an employer to prove that a work was produced in the course of employment where an employee has produced it outside of normal working hours and on their own device.

While the above issues may appear extensive, it is not all doom and gloom. The most important element in addressing the issues is a well drafted, clear and up-to-date BYOD policy which is effectively communicated.

Sarah Burke,

Solicitor, Thomas Eggar