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Old 11-01-2007, 10:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default question about the BB and workplace privacy issues

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Hey all,

So I have a paper to write for my Law & Ethics class about anything to do with either the law or ethics. Of course, I try to fit in the Blackberry.

So far, I have been writing about whether or not a company is allowed to "intercept" or monitor/read employees email (in particular, the case Michael A Smyth v. The Pillsbury Company, 1996)

I also mention GPS becoming more widespread, and employers being able to track employee movements with GPS equipped handsets (also looking at the NYC TLC and the taxicab drivers)

I am slightly stuck for more issues. It does not have to be specifically about the Blackberry, but it would be fun

Can any BES Admins tell me how or why you would monitor an employee? Of course you don't have to divulge details, but in general would be nice. Also, maybe you could point me to some credible articles (as in, not Engadget or BGR. I love both, but I don't think my professor will) relating to this issue? So far I have searched BusinessWeek and other business magazines, and surprisingly came up rather dry.

Are there any other topics in workplace privacy related to technology? Monitoring email and tracking via GPS were the two big ones that came to mind, but surely I'm missing others.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-01-2007, 10:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Greg, while you're waiting on something of substance here, you might peruse the BlackBerry In the News section here for some articles of interest.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted (8703e: BlackBerry8703e/4.2.1 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

I would also suggest that you look at a corporate/company point of view. Perhaps delve into the aspect of security.
The company that I am with is very suspect about the security of trade secrets.

Best of luck.

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Old 11-02-2007, 01:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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When we start working here (a law enforcement county agency), we sign agreements as terms of employment that allow our internet and email messages to be open for review.
Most corporate policy and governement agencies also have policies that say the same thing.
By having both, it eliminates any claim of "privacy" as you are using someone else's equipment, bandwidth, etc.
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Old 11-04-2007, 02:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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How about looking at BB use from the employee side? How much can a company expect for someone to be 'on call' and answer BB emails 24/7? Is there a point where a salaried employee can say 'enough already'? Can an employee refuse a company BB? Can they be fired for turning it off?

What are our rights?
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Old 11-04-2007, 08:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted (Verizon 8830: BlackBerry8830/4.2.2 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

You may want to look at acceptable use policies.
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Old 11-04-2007, 08:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kabooker View Post
How about looking at BB use from the employee side? How much can a company expect for someone to be 'on call' and answer BB emails 24/7? Is there a point where a salaried employee can say 'enough already'? Can an employee refuse a company BB? Can they be fired for turning it off?

What are our rights?
1. get your employer to clarify his understanding of your contract of employment and his expectations of you, specifically and in writing;
2. compare his expectations with your understanding of your obligations and contract of employment;
3. Clarify an understanding that is acceptable to each side;
4. if that is not possible, sue him, or seek your fortune elsewhere!
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Old 11-04-2007, 09:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8700/4.2.1 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/100)

Very interesting! I am sure there are members here who may be able to give you a good perspective. Try contact RIM directly! - would be very interested in reading the final outcome!

I work for ATT and do sales! I would love to get email on my device but they won't allow it for non-management as they don't want company info out there. Its frustrating as my customer sometimes need fast response and I can't respond on a day off as I don't have email access. I have lost a bit of business thanks to this. They can call of course. As ATT provides it. but man it is tough dealing with many customer issues especially on a day off. Typically turn it off after 8pm and doesn't turn back on until about an hour before I go back to work. Definitely a fine line to follow as customers want instant response to anything that comes to mind. Wow now I'm thinking about how much it all invades my personal life hmmmmmmmmm!
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Old 11-04-2007, 03:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted (Verizon 8830: BlackBerry8830/4.2.2 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

As far as employee responsibilities, it obviously depends on the industry.
If someone is on call, they may be held to a different std.
I assume the std is what is reasonable.
Does anyone know of a specific time frame???

Very interesting.
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Old 11-05-2007, 09:34 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think it definitely depends on the industry, the company and your role within the company. For example, as a Systems Manager in a 24x7 IT operation, I'm effectively on-call for escalation purposes 24x7. That stands whether I have a Blackberry or not (the Operators have my home number, my cell phone, my wife's cell phone, etc). The company giving me a Blackberry doesn't make me any more or any less 'on call' but it does make it easier for them to contact me if required. But they don't expect me to respond to work emails in the middle of the night or at weekends (although I do sometimes!)

Regarding privacy, I have a couple of private email accounts coming through my Blackberry. But it's clearly understood (by me at any rate!) that the Blackberry is company property and any personal use is at the company's discretion. I use the Blackberry for personal calls as well as emails (in fact I got rid of my personal cell phone when I got the Blackberry) and thus the company has access to all my emails and all phone records. But this is an unofficial policy, and I'm sure if I abused the privilege, it would quickly be withdrawn.
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Old 11-06-2007, 06:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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How about in the case of an employee's own BlackBerry device, that he chooses to activate on the BES? In that case, how do you all feel about the "company" monitoring the employee's email, location, etc... Mind you I'm not speaking of the business email address, but rather the personal address(es). Now you should realize that much of the traffic is probably not routed through the internal secure network, but routed through my own personal account's connection to the provider, and thus not using the company bandwidth. Also understand that some email and/or SMS messages are backed up and/or logged in newer versions of the BES software. Thus admins have the ability to read these messages that were never sent over their network, nor originated from their equipment.

I am the BES admin where I work, and I have my own 8100 that I purchased. I did this in part because I don't want to carry two devices around, and since I'm required to carry a BB for work, I chose to replace my cell phone with a BB. I've chosen to disable the server backup feature and I have my address book sync turned off, but there are still certain areas that may still be out of my control (I am not a very experienced BES admin.) I'm also not crazy about a replacement admin being able to wipe and disable my device with the click of a mouse, should they decide to fire me without warning one day.


Thoughts??
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Old 11-06-2007, 06:34 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by CO_BBTechie View Post
How about in the case of an employee's own BlackBerry device, that he chooses to activate on the BES?
Simple. As the BES admin, you shouldn't allow privately owned equipment to be activated on a corporate BES.
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Old 11-06-2007, 07:01 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguin3107 View Post
Simple. As the BES admin, you shouldn't allow privately owned equipment to be activated on a corporate BES.
Nice try, but why take such an easy out? You're assuming I even have the authority to make such a decision. Let's assume for a moment that as the BES admin, the decision is not mine. It was in fact our CIO who chose to allow the use of personal equipment on the BES "in certain cases." I believe we have four such cases, and three of us work in IT. The only outside case happens to be an executive assistant, and nobody wants to be called out saying no to her.

With that being said, would you care to comment on the content?
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Old 11-07-2007, 06:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CO_BBTechie View Post
Nice try, but why take such an easy out? You're assuming I even have the authority to make such a decision. Let's assume for a moment that as the BES admin, the decision is not mine. It was in fact our CIO who chose to allow the use of personal equipment on the BES "in certain cases." I believe we have four such cases, and three of us work in IT. The only outside case happens to be an executive assistant, and nobody wants to be called out saying no to her.

With that being said, would you care to comment on the content?
You and your CIO need to get a backbone.
If either of you are the slightest bit concerned about security and/or privacy, then you should implement a new policy which prohibits personal devices on a corporate BES.
Otherwise, you should make it clear to the end user that once a device is attached to the BES, it becomes the property of the company while operational.

What more do you want to hear? It sounds like you've already got a procedure in place which you have no intention of changing.

BES does what it does. If there's a device attached to it... it's going to take over. PIN, SMS, Phone Call logs, etc. will be audited. Someone will have the ability to lock down your features. Someone can wipe, lock, or disable your device.
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Old 11-07-2007, 08:19 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I agree with Penguin. We just went through the hiring of 2 senior executives. One of them expressed the want of a company cell phone because he did not like the BB as a phone. There was some talk of letting them choose and expense the BB.

I simply explained to Sr. Management that in case of a separation, we could be on thin legal ground regarding the wiping of an employee oened device.

And that as the keeper of the comms budget, I refused to give any employee 2 comms devices.

It comes down to my network, my devices, my data. When I meet with new employees, they sign an acceptable use policy. I also verbally make them aware that any activity they do on company owned equipment is looged and monitored. There is no expectation of privacy.
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Old 11-07-2007, 11:15 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguin3107 View Post
You and your CIO need to get a backbone.
If either of you are the slightest bit concerned about security and/or privacy, then you should implement a new policy which prohibits personal devices on a corporate BES.
Otherwise, you should make it clear to the end user that once a device is attached to the BES, it becomes the property of the company while operational.

What more do you want to hear? It sounds like you've already got a procedure in place which you have no intention of changing.

BES does what it does. If there's a device attached to it... it's going to take over. PIN, SMS, Phone Call logs, etc. will be audited. Someone will have the ability to lock down your features. Someone can wipe, lock, or disable your device.


That's exactly what I wanted to hear.... your explanation of your opinion. Having read why you feel the way you do, I would tend to agree with you also. The subject continues to be thrown around in our meetings as to whether or not to allow the use of personal devices on the BES. The majority of our technical staff do not feel they should be allowed, and are hesitant to support them when something goes wrong. i.e. You broke my personal device so now you should buy me a new one.

We do not have a formalized procedure in place, and certainly have not made up our minds as to what the policy will be going forward. This has only been an issue for as long as the Pearl has been out, as that device seems to be the first RIM has designed and targeted for the casual user. As for me growing a backbone, I do what I need to, and my opinion has been registered. It's not my policy to make and I have made it clear that as a rule, I don't think we should allow it. I do think an exception can be made for IT tech staff members however. I don't want to support other employees' personal devices, and if I break my own I break my own. I'm not going to expect the company to buy me a new one. For that reason, I consider myself an acceptable exception to the rule, being in the position of administering the BES accounts. I mentioned I'm not crazy about a replacement admin being able to wipe my device, but I also realize I need to deal with that if I want to have my own device on the BES.
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:35 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The problem with the exception for IT is that at some point, an IT guy will get a device that you are not prepared to support in your user community. Then will come the questions of 'Bob from IT has one, why can't I get one?'.

And there is a clear legal issue. If somebody with a personal device is fired and you remote wipe the device, You have opened yourself to liability due to the loss of their personnal data. And their is nothing you can sign that will protect you against litigation.

Then there is the phone number issue. If that personnal number is used for business, how does the company ensure that business contacts no longer call that number after termination.

From a corporate point of view, it makes no sense to allow personnal devices on the BES.

Would you allow a user to join their home PC to your domain?
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:39 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We have a simple written, global policy: no exceptions. Personally owned equipment is not allowed the network. If someone wants a cell phone and a BlackBerry, and they want to pay for it - no problem! We don't pay departmental mobile charges. They do.
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:59 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The problem with the exception for IT is that at some point, an IT guy will get a device that you are not prepared to support in your user community. Then will come the questions of 'Bob from IT has one, why can't I get one?'.

And there is a clear legal issue. If somebody with a personal device is fired and you remote wipe the device, You have opened yourself to liability due to the loss of their personnal data. And their is nothing you can sign that will protect you against litigation.

Then there is the phone number issue. If that personnal number is used for business, how does the company ensure that business contacts no longer call that number after termination.

From a corporate point of view, it makes no sense to allow personnal devices on the BES.

Would you allow a user to join their home PC to your domain?
Canuck; You made some valid points. I don't suppose I have much ground to continue my line of thinking with respect to 'acceptable exceptions' given the input you and others have offered. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to request the new 8130 from Verizon as my business device? Please don't misinterpret this as being condescending, I truly have absorbed what has been offered up here. Thanks.
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Old 11-07-2007, 01:42 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Canuck; You made some valid points. I don't suppose I have much ground to continue my line of thinking with respect to 'acceptable exceptions' given the input you and others have offered. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to request the new 8130 from Verizon as my business device? Please don't misinterpret this as being condescending, I truly have absorbed what has been offered up here. Thanks.
You'll get a range of opinions here, some more hardheaded than others. Most borne out of painfull experience.

Besides, It's always better to have somebody else pay for your toy.

It doesn't mean you can't have the really cool, one-off device. It's just easier to answer queries about by saying you're eveluating it rather than 'it's my personnal device'.

Best of luck.
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