Bring-Your-Own-Device Programs: Steps to Minimize Nonprofits' Legal Risks

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Nonprofit organizations are increasingly allowing their employees to use their own mobile devices to access, view, download, and transmit work-related materials. While these bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs may enhance productivity and decrease information-technology costs, these devices also can create certain legal, financial and other risks. Recent reports indicate that almost half of the employers with BYOD programs have experienced a data breach of some kind resulting from employee error or intentional wrongdoing. Even a single breach can lead to financial liability, regulatory penalties, reputational harm, and the loss or unauthorized disclosure of intellectual property. Below is a non-exhaustive list of steps to consider in connection with establishing a BYOD program or allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work-related activities.

BYOD Policy -

First and foremost, it is important to have a written BYOD policy. Such a BYOD policy should be tailored and customized to meet the operational realities of the particular workplace. In other words, the BYOD policy should addresses all of the activities and related concerns of a particular nonprofit and not amount to a boilerplate, one-size-fits-all policy statement. When creating a BYOD policy, consider the need to address such items as trade secret protection, email/computer/system/document access or usage policies, security policies, device usage policies, sexual harassment and other equal employment opportunity matters, data breach response plans, and employee training initiatives. In addition, consider implementing the policy by obtaining informed consent to the policy statement from all BYOD program participants.

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