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Cell Phone Policies Allow Employers to Wipe Personal Phones

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Here's a clause you may not have noticed in your law firm's cell phone policy: Your employer may have the power to delete everything on your cell phone -- regardless who owns it.

Any cell phone used for business purposes is likely covered by your law firm's cell phone policy. That includes personal cell phones that are used to access the firm's email system.

But look closely. Many cell phone policies today allow employers to send a self-destruct message via your email server -- and delete all data from your phone.

It's called a "remote wipe," and it's used only as a last resort -- usually when a phone with sensitive data goes missing or ends up in the wrong hands.

The feature works on any type of phone, including iPhone and Android models. All that's required is a connection to a company's email system.

Sometimes a remote wipe can happen by accident. One woman told NPR her personal iPhone was wiped when her company's IT department accidentally sent the wrong command.

If the woman didn't sign a waiver in her company's cell phone policy, she may have grounds for a lawsuit, one expert said.

That's why many companies and firms are including remote wipes of personal computing devices in their cell phone and email agreements.

The agreements may also cover home computers and iPads -- any device that contains corporate information, or can reach into the cloud.

It's just another reminder of just how much power employers have over anything business-related, and how important it is for a company's cell phone policy to be clear.

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