By: Peter J. Lamont, Esq.
In today's business world employees use their personal cell phones to conduct work related activities almost daily. However, when an employee leaves what can a company do about all of the confidential information like client telephone numbers, etc. stored on the employee's personal cell?
In a recent case, Rajaee v. Design Tech Homes, an employer remotely wiped clean the personal cell phone of a former employee because it contained a good deal of company information and data. In addition to the data, the cell phone was able to access company computers and e-mail system.
The employee sued, alleging violations of the Electronics Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He argued the phone was his personal property and company’s action erased his photos, contacts and other personal valuable information.
The court dismissed his lawsuit, saying the information stored on a smartphone isn’t covered by the ECPA. The law is designed to punish hackers who break into computer servers. It doesn’t prohibit deleting cellphone information, even if the phone wasn’t company property.
BEST PRACTICES: While the court sided with the defendant in Rajaee, a slightly different factual situation could have produced a different outcome. A better practice is to provide your employees (who need to regularly use a cell for company business) with a company cell phone. That way when an employee is terminated or resigns you are able to take the phone back and protect corporate data and information without running the risk of a lawsuit.
For more information about Rajaee v. Design Tech Homes, or to obtain a copy of the court's decision please call me at (973) 949-3770 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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