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In a recent interview with the Federal Technology Insider, federaltechnologyinsider.com, Chief Information Officer of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Kimberly Hancher, spoke about the "success" of the EEOC's pilot program in allowing its employees to use their personal smartphones for work-related business, thus eliminating the need for government issued devices.  The principal driver behind the program was cost reduction, and according to Ms. Hancher, the EEOC has seen a 30% cost reduction.  However, now all of the EEOC employees are walking around with government information on their personally owned devices.

 

To be sure, Ms. Hancher made it clear that the EEOC requires its employees with government information on their personal smartphones to have a complex password system (requiring employeesto re-set them frequently), and also to agree to afford the Commission access for criminal or civil "concerns".  Also, Ms. Hancher indicated that all personal devices have to be capable of remote "wiping" in the event a device is lost or otherwise compromised.  Finally, Ms. Hancher emphasized that the information provided to EEOC employees is not overly sensitive, thus mitigating concern if it is compromised.

 

So, should all private employers rush to enjoy the savings the federal government is apparently reaping by eliminating work smartphones, and have employees use their own personal devices at work.  I am hardly convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks.

 

Indeed, is any business owner going to sleep well at night knowing that his or her employees are walking around with the company's confidential business information or personal data (i.e., social security numbers, dates of birth, etc.) on their privately owned devices?  Also, in the wake of states pushing back against employers through, for example, privacy legislation that prohibits employers from requesting personal on-line account information for an AOL or Facebook account, is management going to trust that state legislatures or the courts will require an employee to turn over his personal device for inspection even if circumstances warrant it? Don't bank on it.

 

In today's world, where information is the most valuable commodity, keep your investment safe and in your control.  Leave BYOD behind.

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