Workers worried by BYOD privacy intrusions: survey

The worry springs from marrying mobile location tracking features

Bring Your Own Device may be touted as a winning policy for workers and employers, but a recent survey finds many employees worry that it's an excuse to invade their privacy.

The worry springs from marrying mobile location tracking features, such as GPS and triangulation, with mobile device management (MDM) applications that can record such information and also identify the apps that users install on their smartphones and tablets.

MORE: 7 BYOD policy essentials

This data is potentially available to employers because in many BYOD policies workers typically agree to accept a client MDM app or agent on their personal device, setting up a connection with the MDM server. That tradeoff also often gives employers the right and the power to delete personal files and content, along with corporate data, in a remote wipe if the device is lost or stolen. "Unless they are specifically informed through an acceptable user agreement and mobile policy, many employees have no idea that this is possible," according to a statement by Fiberlink, an MDM software vendor based in Blue Bell, Pa.

The vendor commissioned Harris to do the survey, which polled 2,243 enterprise workers.

Eighty-two percent of the respondents said they consider such location tracking to be an "invasion of their privacy," according to Fiberlink's summary of the findings. The findings were also summarized in a diagram posted on the vendor's blog

Almost as many, 76%, don't want their employers being able to see what applications they install on their personal device. And almost the same percentage, 75%, don't want to install on their mobile device a corporate app that lets the employer track their location on or off the job, even if it the tradeoff is being able to access corporate email and other resources.

The survey revealed strong convictions about this changed relationship. Eighty-two percent are "concerned" to "extremely concerned" about employers being able to track websites they browse on personal devices when they're off the clock. Even more, 86%, are concerned to extremely concerned "about the unauthorized deletion of their personal pictures, music, and email profiles."

Only 15% are "not at all concerned" about employers tracking their location during non-work time and the same percentage are not at all concerned about employers tracking the personal app they install on their devices.

According to Fiberlink, its MaaS360 MDM software has settings that can block the collection of personal data.

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