The operating system on mobile devices and many consumer electronics is called a mobile
operating system and resides on firmware. Mobile operating systems typically include or
support the following: calendar and contact management, text messaging, email, touch screens,
accelerometer (so that you can rotate the display), digital cameras, media players, speech recognition,
GPS navigation, a variety of third-party apps, a browser, and wireless connectivity, such as
cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
Should Text Messages Sent by Employees Be Private?
work-related text messages, is the employee
legally required to reveal all messages, even personal
ones? Is the employer liable for damages
caused by inappropriate messages sent by an
Many companies provide employees with
mobile devices, such as smartphones, for work
communications. Employers typically create
acceptable use policies. These policies address
ownership of electronic communications,
including email messages, voice mail messages,
and text messages. Regardless of the policy,
employees may believe they have the rights of
privacy and self-expression when they use a
company-issued mobile device for personal use.
The issue is complicated further when companies
employ BYOD (bring your own device) policies.
When an employee uses a personal device for
business-related communications, it is unclear
who owns the communications, and who takes
responsibility for any misuse.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an
employer can read workers’ text messages on
company-owned devices if the employer has
reason to believe the text messages violate
workplace rules. The Court held that employees
can purchase their own mobile devices for
personal use. Critics state that employees have
a reasonable expectation of privacy. Supporters
of the decision argue that employers own
the devices because they provide the devices
and pay for the service for the employee. They
claim, therefore, that employers have a right to
view the content of all text messages.
Should text messages sent
by employees be private? Why or why not?
How can employers impose policies regarding
text messages sent on company-issued
mobile devices? Should employers be able to
access work-related communications
on an employee-owned device? Why or why not?
BYOD Security Issues
can lead to many benefits for businesses, but
they also give rise to many issues that affect
information security and data protection.
When employees bring their smartphones,
tablets, and laptops into the workplaces, the
companies surrender much control over this
hardware compared to devices they own.
One of the biggest problems is that
employees can carry their devices everywhere
outside of work. If these devices are lost or
stolen, the company’s sensitive information can
land in the hands of criminals. Many of these
allegedly lost devices are sold on online auctions
and other services websites, even if the original
owners have wiped their devices remotely.
Companies need to educate employees
on mobile device management (MDM). One
point they need employees to know is that
phishing scams abound in email messages,
text messages, Facebook posts, and Tweets.
Other security measures to emphasize are the
need to use strong passwords, to not reveal
these passwords to other employees, and to
avoid apps that collect information about
the user, especially those that monitor the
employee’s location and shopping habits.
BYOD policies should be developed that
address technical, legal, and human resources
issues. The language in these policies should
cover these topics:
• Ensuring that work data will not be merged
with the employee’s personal data.
• Requiring that nonemployees, such as
family members who use the device, will
not access work data.
• Following procedures when an employee
resigns or is terminated.
• Alerting management immediately when
the device is lost or stolen.
Do you or people you
know work at a business that allow employees
to bring their own devices to work? If so, do
these businesses have a BYOD policy? If so,
how were the policy’s terms communicated?
For example, were they explained verbally and
available in written form?