Last year, the law really started taking note of cellphones and smartphones. We covered this in some detail then, but it’s worth returning to the topic every now and again. After all, we need to keep reminding ourselves of events that could impact the way we do business. Also, laws keep evolving.As always, I have to make a major disclaimer: I AM NOT A LAWYER. All the news I bring here reflects my layman’s interpretation of bills, judgments, and laws. However, I do take a very active interest in legal matters, especially those that can have important consequences for business. That’s why we keep bringing you, our loyal readers, regular updates about things that might impact all of us.
And so, without further ado, here are four important laws/bills that can impact the way you use and think about mobile devices owned by you and your company.
Bill C-51 (Under Consideration in Parliament)
Let’s start with the big one. Although Bill C-51 is not yet enshrined as law, it is under serious consideration by the federal government in response to the security climate of recent months. Bill C-51 is a broad piece of legislation that gives new powers to authorities to do what they feel is in the best interests of protecting us. Also: 82% of Canadians are in support of it.
The end goal of the bill, that of protecting the Canadian public, is obviously very important and worthy. That said, we do need to be aware of what it may mean on a practical level. There are two points worth highlighting here:
- Language and statements that are seen to advocate or promote terrorist activity would become illegal. Presumably, this could include anything that that is posted via wireless devices to social media sites and services. Because there’s no precise definition of “promote” or “advocate”, there’s a lot of room for interpretation on the part of authorities. Overall, it means that we should be more careful than ever about what we write. Once it’s released out into the world, we won’t be there to constantly clarify what we meant to say.
- The authorities have greater powers overall to monitor and intervene with our communications and activities if they feel that the information can have a reasonable impact on public security. Now, this really shouldn’t affect us on a normal basis. However, some of us are more cautious than others. As such, “reasonableness” can vary across cases. We should be aware of that.
Supreme Court of Canada Expands Police Search Powers Over Cell Phone Data: December 2014
In December, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of giving police greater power to search cell phones (and the like) during arrests. More specifically, the Court is giving police “extraordinary power” to do warrantless searches of cell phone data of devices they find on people they arrest. The reasoning here is that these searches will:
- Help identify accomplices
- Locate and preserve evidence.
It’s not a blank cheque, though. The Court is trying to limit the searches to recent emails, photos, texts, and call logs on the phone. Still and all, the privacy of cell phones is reduced by this Supreme Court decision.
Supreme Court of US Limits Police Search Powers Over Cell Phone Data: 2013, 2014
It’s a different matter in the US. The US Supreme Court decided to require police to acquire a warrant prior to searching cell phones (and the like) which they seize.
The US Supreme Court’s thinking was that, because of the sheer volume of personal data that’s stored on cell phones these days would give viewers a massive amount of insight on the phones’ owners, the data has to be better protected.
Now, most of us in business will do a fair bit of travel back and forth between the two countries. Most of us also won’t be in trouble with the law one way or the other. But it really bears noting that managing the content-related usage of mobile devices just got a lot trickier.
California Supreme Court Ruling on BYOD Expenses: August 2014
When bring-your-own-device (BYOD) first came out as a trend, many companies saw this as a way to reduce operating expenses. After all, if employees are using their own personally-purchased devices for work, then the company doesn’t have to spend that money for the devices, right?
Two things have scuttled that line of thinking. First of all, it can end up costing companies more in the long run because there’s now a bigger volume of devices to support. To begin with, most of these devices will have no easy documentation for the IT department to use.
Even more critically though, is a California Supreme Court ruling that requires employers to reimburse employee usage on BYOD. So now, in California, even if a company doesn’t own a device, it will still have to pay for its usage if employees are using it for work. This will wreak havoc with how a firm will manage IT and telecom assets.
Final words for now…
There’s no getting around the fact that we love our technology, and that more and more of it will enter our workplace. That’s why we have to pay more attention to how we manage it all. If we track it and use it right, we’ll be taking our business to ever-greater heights. If we don’t, it will spell trouble, financially and legally.
We’re doing our part to make it easier for you to manage all your technology, both by keeping you up to date on the latest developments and by building Canada’s best technology asset management solutions, Cimpl for IT and telecom assets. Contact us today for more information!
- How Will Your BYOD Policy be Affected by the Supreme Court?
- Implementing BYOD? Wait! The courts have something to say!
- Further Concerns about BYOD and Mobile Security