BYOD Expense, Distracted Driving, Wearables - Mobile Legislation

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — August 19, 2014

With each new device comes a new challenge in policy, liability and privacy. It's not just enterprises and employees trying to keep up, but the law too.
 
BYOD IOU
The California Court of Appeals, in a ruling on August 12 in Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service, Inc. states: "We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cell phone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills."
 
Furthermore, the ruling declares that "if an employee is required to make work-related calls on a personal cell phone, then he or she is incurring an expense for purposes of section 2802. It does not matter whether the phone bill is paid for by a third person, or at all. In other words, it is no concern to the employer that the employee may pass on the expense to a family member or friend, or to a carrier that has to then write off a loss."
 
There are also related confidentiality issues that were exposed. "Not only does our interpretation prevent employers from passing on operating expenses, it also prevents them from digging into the private lives of their employees to unearth how they handle their finances," the ruling concludes.
 
There are many solutions which enable automated expense management, but it's unlikely any are ready for this new edict. Until now, companies were setting their own policies for personal phone use expenses at work. This particular ruling only affects California, but it could set a precedent for other cases.
 
Texting While Sitting
In November 2013, New Jersey Senator Richard Codey (D-Essex), proposed legislation that would make talking, texting and even looking at your phone while temporarily stopped in a vehicle (as in at a red light or in traffic) against the law. 
 
At that time he told NJ.com, "Under the current driving law, if you're at a red light and you’re drunk, you’re DUI," Codey said.
 
Distracted driving laws vary by state and license type. For example, in Indiana, commercial drivers are banned from using phones while temporarily stopped, while in Hawaii it's fully illegal unless you are fully stopped (as in pulling over to the side of the road). New Hampshire will go the way of Hawaii by 2015, plus all cell phone use by minors is behind the wheel is prohibited.
 
A spokesperson from Codey's office told Mobile Enterprise that, for New Jersey, the proposed ban on temporary stops did not make it to law, but effective July 1, 2014, the fines for talking or texting on a handheld wireless device increased.
 
First time offenders will face a fine of at least $200. The fine associated with a second offense will increase to at least $400 and drivers who are caught a third time will face a fine of at least $600, a possible 90-day suspension of their driver's license and will be assessed three motor vehicle penalty points.

The spokesperson also said  that even though the fines doubled with this most recent law, there is already new legislation drafted that will further double the fines.
 
The liability scale is increasingly tipping towards the enterprise in the cases of accidents caused by distracted employees whose job it is to drive.
 
However, if an employee answers a work email while driving and something happens, whose fault is that? Laws and corporate policy around this are likely to be here soon.
 
Fit and Compromised
A new report from the California HealthCare Foundation warns health data shared via the latest in wearable devices can become a "digital tattoo." According to U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer personal health and fitness data is so rich that an individual can be identified by their gait.
 
The data is being gathered and stored by wearables like FitBit and can potentially be sold to third parties, including employers, insurance providers and advertisers, without the users’ knowledge or consent. This can lead to discrimination, ID theft and more, said Schumer in a release.
 
In addition, most wearables today, like the FitBit are meant for consumers; therefore the concern is getting to market fast, not enterprise security. In fact, 70% of the most commonly used Internet of Things (IoT) devices contain vulnerabilities—according to HP.
 
Plus, the March 2014 Marble Security Labs’ Mobile App Threat Report found, "Health, fitness and lifestyle apps often poorly protect user data and privacy. This is presumably because developers of these apps want to learn as much about a user as possible in order to tailor fitness programs, as well as to offer other products for sale. However, this data mining can expose corporate data or address book information, which then leaves a company’s control. In fact, some health, fitness and lifestyle apps display characteristics common to malware."
 
There are currently no federal protections to prevent developers from selling data obtained via fitness trackers to a third party without the wearer’s consent.
 
Schumer is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to push for fitness device and app companies to provide a clear and obvious opportunity to “opt-out” before any personal health data is given to third parties.
 
"Personal fitness bracelets and the data they collect on your health, sleep, and location, should be just that—personal. The fact that private health data—rich enough to identify the user’s gait—is being gathered by applications like FitBit and can then be sold to third-parties without the user’s consent is a true privacy nightmare," said Senator Schumer. "If companies of fitness devices have the ability to sell personal health data to insurers, employers and others, users should be alerted and given the opportunity to decline. The FTC should require fitness devices and app companies to adopt new privacy measures that will help conceal the identity of individuals and develop policies to protect information in the event of a security breach."
 
In September 2013, the FDA released guidelines on mobile medical applications to address privacy concerns. Unfortunately, there is a loophole as the guidelines only apply to apps that are promoted for medical purposes, such as the diagnosis, cure, treatment or prevention of a disease.
 
Without a secure privacy policy or protection from HIPAA, users' health information obtained via these trackers could be sold to insurers, mortgage lenders, or employers.

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