Both the financial and productivity benefits of corporate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies no longer seem to be arguable. (Even if Jeopardy G.O.A.Ts struggled with the Cybersecurity category.) Employees have by-and-large accepted the trade-off between the convenience of using their own mobile device and the requirement of having some corporate management of the device. They’re generally aware that if they enroll their own device into a corporate program, monitoring and controls will be activated by the company to protect against data leakage, malware, and other risk factors.
But like consumers, employees from the C-suite to the roaming technician are becoming increasingly concerned about sensitive, personally identifiable (PI) data generated by their mobile usage and what happens to it. As more data is harvested and used in ways the end user is not aware of, privacy and surveillance concerns can overshadow convenience. When it comes to location sharing from mobile devices, assurances from the entities collecting the data are being countered by citizen-centric research from sources like the New York Times Privacy Project:
“Yes, the location data contains billions of data points with no identifiable information like names or email addresses. But it’s child’s play to connect real names to the dots that appear on the maps.”
An employee has to ask: is my company protecting and respecting my privacy like they would one of our customers? Did I read and I understand the informed consent language in the BYOD policy?
The Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) have a big stake in this too as the reputation of a company that does not take care of its employees’ privacy will affect its ability to build trust and loyalty with its customers.
Both Google (with Android) and Apple (iOS and macOS) have invested in features and modes to separate work and personal device usage, but organizations can go a step further to protect their employees’ privacy and clearly communicate how their data is being captured and used. Privacy-by-design and digital trust are emerging concepts in business-to-consumer relationships and it should be extended to employees. A worker should have high confidence that their employer is not being cavalier, opaque, or careless with the data they collect from the device.
The good news is that mobile device management (MDM) and unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions offer straightforward capabilities to enforce compliance while keeping friction low and productivity high.
Specifically, most leading solutions can—at the absolute least—toggle visibility into applications users have installed as well as restrict the ability of an administrator to track location data for a given device.
Ultimately, as mentioned at the start of this article, there is an unwritten (and, most likely, written) understanding between employee and employer stating that employees knowingly take on some burden of responsibility when using a personal device for work purposes. Organizations many times will aim to track some of this data, regardless of whether a device is corporate-owned or BYOD.
But some of the data that an employee would worry about having tracked is largely inaccessible by leading UEM providers—call logs, text logs, and browsing habits, for example.
This is by design.
IBM, specifically, is a strong proponent of current data privacy regulations, strictly abiding by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for worldwide business processes. IBM’s UEM platform, IBM Security MaaS360 with Watson, is no exception. While GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and similar regulations are not typically employee-focused, they have helped dictate many of the ways MaaS360 has aimed to alleviate BYOD concerns in the workplace.
Many of IBM’s largest clients rely on MaaS360 to support these personal device initiatives, and with UEM industry analysts championing exemplary user experience as a primary objective, alleviating data headaches for a highly-data-sensitive labor force will continue to be in focus.
Learn more about how IBM supports user privacy in endpoint management at Unified EndpointManagement.com.