Data Protection Report - Norton Rose Fulbright

As the line between work and home becomes increasingly blurred, the federal, British Columbia and Alberta privacy commissioners have issued joint guidelines to help organizations reduce the risks of privacy breaches with respect to employers’ data accessed from employee-owned devices (EODs), while also securing employees’ privacy rights regarding any personal information stored on EODs.

The guidelines, issued on August 13, 2015, apply to all types of EODs – that is, all desktops and mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops – used to access corporate data, emails, communications, applications and other processes and information, and intend to address issues pertaining to: (i) risk assessment; (ii) acceptable uses of EODs; (iii) corporate monitoring and app management; (iv) the sharing of EODs; (iv) connection to corporate servers; (v) responsibility for security features; (vi) software updates; and (vii) voice or data plans.

The guidelines also emphasize that organizations’ BYOD programs should provide for restriction with respect to: (i) cloud services, (ii) devices and operation systems; and (iii) information that can (or cannot) be stored on EODs. Likewise, the guidelines stress that such BYOD programs should address a number of issues, including: (a) users’ responsibilities; (b) acceptable and unacceptable uses of EODs; (c) access and security requirements; and (d) sharing of EODs with family and friends.

Finally, the guidelines indicate that although BYOD programs can be part of an organization’s cost reduction strategy, using EODs to carry out both personal and business functions may introduce privacy and security risks that could impact both personal and corporate information. Accordingly, in addition to the foregoing, the guidelines set out a series of considerations to be taken into account, such as: (i) implementing mobile device software to manage EODs that connect to the corporate network and effecting proper authentication measures; (ii) signing, with each EOD owner, an agreement providing for the administration activities that can performed on the EOD by the organization; (iii) considering partitioning each EOD into two compartments; (iv) implementing encryption, storage and retention procedures; (iv) addressing vulnerabilities and malware protections; and (v) providing adequate training for all IT professionals and users.

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