Too Much of A Good Thing? Mind the Privacy Implications of iOS 7's New MDM Capabilities in Your BYOD Workforce

In addition to the consumer hoopla over iOS 7, companies managing BYOD programs also have reason to rejoice. As reported on CIO.com, iOS 7 brings about a new level of control for companies through expanded app-level MDM Capabilities. MDM, or Mobile Device Management, is the technology that companies use to try to segregate the corporate and the personal realms on mobile devices.

Of course, the trick is not in having the coolest technology, but it how you use it. For app-level MDM to work, the company takes control over the app (including the ability to wipe the app and its data). For some apps that themselves share personal and corporate activities (e.g., the address book), the company's use of MDM to protect its corporate assets will also sweep in personal assets. One can debate whether this is good or bad, but it does exacerbate challenges in balancing personal versus corporate interests. The tool makes it easier to protect the corporate assets, but exposes the personal assets to greater risk.

As we have outlined in prior posts, courts have striven to protect the individual's interest in their personal data stored on mobile devices from over-reaching companies. Again, as we have previously discussed, the best way for the company to protect itself is by being very clear in its BYOD policies as to what it will and will not do. This requires the manager of the BYOD policy to understand clearly the technical implications of the new iOS 7 capabilities--including both the intended and unintended consequences of leveraging those capabilities--and to make those implications clear to company employees.

While companies cannot eliminate all risk, by being proactive and notifying their employees of the conditions of using BYOD devices (including through implementation of updated BYOD policies), they can take advantage of the new technical capabilities of iOS 7 MDM to protect their assets, while limiting exposure to claims by employees that do not understand the implications of BYOD.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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