On June 20, 2013, I participated in a one-hour webinar regarding “Bring Your Own Device” (or BYOD) policies. I addressed certain e-discovery issues involving BYOD policies. An audio recording and instructional slides are available here for those who missed it. The webinar was part of a monthly series entitled Third Thursday – Crowell & Moring’s Labor and Employment Update. This series is dedicated to helping our clients stay on top of developing law, emerging compliance issues, and best practices. I had the pleasure of joining my colleagues Tom Gies and Chris Calsyn from our Labor & Employment Group on the roundtable panel.

BYOD policies are not new, but they have become increasingly popular among employers over the last few years. According to a Cisco survey just last year, 78% of U.S. white-collar employees use a mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet, for work purposes. The survey also revealed an evolving attitude among corporate IT personnel, from initial opposition to BYOD to growing acceptance and even support. According to the survey, more than 76% of IT managers believe that BYOD is a good idea, even though it poses certain challenges. The study predicts that, by 2014, the average number of connected devices per worker will rise to 3.3 (up from 2.8 in 2012) and mobility initiatives will consume 20% of IT budgets (compared to 17% in 2012). Even schools are embracing BYOD (or BYOT — Bring Your Own Technology) to cut costs and facilitate education.

The benefits of BYOD include reduced IT costs associated with employer-provided devices, such as Blackberries® and company laptops, and increased productivity from employees who are more comfortable with their own mobile devices. These policies, however, can present certain risks and costs, particularly in e-discovery, that need to be considered before an employer implements BYOD. Our discussion during the webinar was aimed at identifying important considerations for clients when adopting and designing BYOD policies as well as providing practical guidance on how to reduce risks and costs associated with these policies. The topics we discussed included: (1) implications of BYOD policies in electronic discovery, (2) compliance with applicable employment laws in implementing and administering a BYOD policy, (3) the intersection of BYOD policies with privacy and data security laws such as HIPAA and the CFAA, and (4) data security issues unique to BYOD policies including protecting employer trade secrets and other sensitive information.

We hope you find the webinar interesting and instructive, and, as always, we welcome your comments and feedback.  If you would like to begin receiving Crowell & Moring’s electronic newsletters/alerts and event notices via email, please click here.