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Will Your Employer Phone Wipe Your Personal Device?

Updated on January 22, 2014

It is now common practice with many large corporate firms to erase and wipe clean the data from an employee's personal device, usually their cellphone or tablet that they used in conjunction with their work. The employers don't usually announce this to the person and when the person goes to their device, some are missing more than company related data. What is usually missing are private photos mistakenly erased by the company.

One employee of a firm would resigned in NYC, was at lunch when he noticed his cell was suddenly powered off. Thinking nothing of it, when he turned it back on to make a call or access some information, his former employer and remotely removed email addresses, photos, apps and music files. The phone suddenly reverted back to when he first got it before he loaded anything into it.

The company did inform him a day later. In a survey, nearly 25% of all firms now wipe employee's cellphones clean when they leave or for security with no warning and remotely. Many times, the owner just notices missing files. So far, the courts regulating this issue seem to be unable to render decisions. Most employers who do wipe fail to inform the employee it will happen and they should, so the owner can protect personal data, but how would you do this? Remove it from the phone?

One person who did go to court over the issue sought compensation for deleting personal data under the state computer trespass laws designed for hackers. The best advice is to ask about a company's data wiping policy if you use their equipment for job related duties. Since you do have to agree, unless you don't want the job, the employer should notify you if the phone will be wiped and when. As self protection (since it IS your phone), experts advise you to back it up frequently to protect your personal data.

However, the real issue and problem is a mixing of personal and business data on your cellphone. By you using your phone, the company avoids such costs but when their data is on it and you are no longer an employee, they too, have rights (which you did agree to when hired) to wipe it. The trouble with all this is, the technology is not precise enough to know what is business data and what is personal data (such as, photos, emails, apps).

Better watch your cellphone!

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