Mobile Device Security Policies for Employers – Small and Large

As a business owner, perhaps you have seen articles about setting ground rules for BYOD (a.k.a. employees bringing their own devices to work to use for work purposes). Placing restrictions on access to Company information, however, should not be limited only to those BYOD devices. Instead, if the Company issues Company-owned devices to employees for use on Company systems, similar ground rules should be put in place to set expectations and provide the backdrop for any disciplinary action that may be needed later if an employee misuses Company information or loses an unsecured device.

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you develop policies for Company-owned devices issued to employees: Continue reading

Why Privacy Policies Must be Personalized

The best argument for why companies should never simply copy and paste the text of another entities’ privacy policy onto their own website can be found in the recent announcement by the FTC of a settlement reached with Snapchat – relating to misrepresentations contained in the Privacy Policy, among other things. (Snapchat is not alleged to have used someone else’s Privacy Policy as its own; however, its mistakes in its public statements about its products illustrate fully that companies should say what they mean, and mean what they say in their privacy policies!) Continue reading

Senate Hearing Scheduled on Mobile Privacy

On April 25, 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that its Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will hold a hearing on “Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy” on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 beginning at 10am. Chairman Al Franken will preside over the proceedings. Prior hearings of the various subcommittees of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been simulcast over the Internet, and it appears that this one will be treated similarly. The recorded webcast should also be available after the hearing, if you miss it in real time.

The witnesses have not yet been identified, but should be posted on the Senate’s hearing site when available.

Newly Introduced Bill Would Require Shutter Sounds in Camera Phones

On January 9, 2009, Representative Pete King (R-New York) proposed H.R. 414 (Camera Phone Predator Alert Act), which requires camera phones to be manufactured in a way that broadcasts the shutter sound a “reasonable” distance when a user takes a picture. According to the findings within the Bill, “Congress finds that children and adolescents have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone.” Section 2.

The Bill does not contain any definitions or standards, and seems to grandfather all existing phones already on the market. Indeed, the sound requirement would only be applied one year after the effective date of the Bill, should it be enacted. Specifically, the Bill requires that all camera phones manufactured after that date may not have any means for the user to disable sound. The applicable “sound” is defined rather generically: “a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone.” Section 3.

The Bill provides for enforcement by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, with civil penalties set forth in 15 U.S.C. § 2069. It is unclear whether this Bill, if enacted, would provide for any private right of action (say, by the person whose picture was taken using a soundless camera phone manufactured after the effective date).

This may also have a minor impact in preventing piracy in the copyright world, since it is quite easy to snap a picture using your camera phone in a museum or other private location of artwork that is presumably protected by copyright. If the sound on your phone is turned off, and if the flash does not activate, it’s possible that no one would know that you made a “copy” of a copyrighted work, perhaps in violation of the Copyright Act. (Taking a picture alone does not automatically result in a finding of copyright infringement – there are substantial factual inquiries that must be made before such a finding occurs.)

Oddly, Rep. Pete King’s press releases web site makes no mention of his introduction of this Bill – although it does reference other Bills that he has introduced or supported. According to Thomas, the Bill was read into the Record when it was introduced and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.