BYOD poses challenge for legal e-discovery, employee privacy


BYOD is posing challenges for legal e-discovery and employee privacy, warned V. John Ella, an attorney at the law firm of Jackson Lewis in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a StarTribune article.

Ella wrote that in a BYOD environment, work emails, even if sent from an employee's personal device, are still the property of the employer and therefore subject to e-discovery requests related to litigation involving the company. This could expose personal emails to court scrutiny.

E-discovery refers to the process of gathering evidence from electronic sources, such as mobile devices, as part of a court proceeding.

"The evidentiary value of emails stems from the fact that they exist somewhere between an old-fashioned letter in terms of permanence and a transcribed telephone conversation in terms of frankness and how much care goes into fashioning the communication," related Ella.

The attorney recommended that a company require employees to use official email accounts for all work-related correspondents. Ensuring compliance with such a policy might be challenging.

Ella related that firms could deploy software solutions that can detect prohibited activities involving personal email accounts and warn employees about policy violations, as well as the risk that their personal emails might end up in court proceedings if they don't comply.

Instituting a policy of keeping work and personal emails separate not only protects corporate secrets, it also protects employees' personal emails from the long arm of the law.

"It is probably best for all of us that we keep personal and work communications separate such that never the twain shall meet," concluded Ella.

For more:
- read Ella's StarTribune article

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