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Remotely wiping mobile phones

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 15:57 UTC (Wed) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285)
In reply to: Remotely wiping mobile phones by ewan
Parent article: Remotely wiping mobile phones

Except that these companies have policies which the employees have presumably read and agreed to. In the policy it probably has something about proper use and that the approved devices are under administrator control.

So by connecting to the service the employee is knowingly placing their device under the control of the remote system...

It would totally depend on what is written down and such, but I doubt the companies are at much risk.


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Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 19:10 UTC (Wed) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

Whatever abusive policy was signed, I doubt that using an improper device gives right to wipe it under any reasonable Law. This sounds a bit too extreme to qualify as self-defence.

But for sure who would sue his boss? (until one is fired of course)

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 19:21 UTC (Wed) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285) [Link]

I dislike it when people claim that a clearly laid out policy is "abusive." Agree to it or not, but if you agree to it, it clearly wasn't that abusive.

At my hypothetical business I could make it my policy to have all wall outlets in the building supply 280 V at 75 Hz. Plug your phone into *that* and Zort! black smoke and nothing else.

Abusive? No. Weird, yes. But why should I put up with my hypothetical employees charging their personal devices from my power supply, when it is clearly against policy?

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 19:45 UTC (Wed) by njs (guest, #40338) [Link]

> Agree to it or not, but if you agree to it, it clearly wasn't that abusive.

I'm glad if you've always had the resources to let you walk away from abusive employers. But that's a fairly rare privilege. Plenty of people make the rational decision that agreeing to an abusive situation is better than starving. But usually it's possible for the company to make money, the employees not to starve, *and* for them not to be abused.

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 20:45 UTC (Wed) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285) [Link]

Some people think it's abusive to make an employee be on call and carry a pager.

Some people think it's abusive to make work calls to an employee's personal phone.

Now, some people seem to be claiming it's abusive to require employees to *not* use their personal phone...

None of this is on the level of requiring women employees to wear revealing uniforms or to work an extra four hours every day unpaid ... neither of which is illegal by the way.

So see, *some* people have crazy ideas about what is "abusive."

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 21:07 UTC (Wed) by dskoll (subscriber, #1630) [Link]

None of this is on the level of requiring women employees to wear revealing uniforms or to work an extra four hours every day unpaid ... neither of which is illegal by the way.

It depends on where you live. I'm pretty sure the latter (four hours unpaid/day) contravenes the law in Ontario where I run my business.

It's also the case that a contract that violates the law is unenforceable. So while businesses can write contracts that greatly favor themselves, they cannot go over the line and make illegal things OK.

Remotely wiping mobile phones - by employee agreement

Posted Sep 17, 2010 16:46 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

In the US, since 1938, workers in low-level jobs are not allowed to work extra hours for free. (Low-level basically means non-intellectual). I don't know about wearing revealing uniforms, but there many very similar things an employee isn't allowed to give.

The great majority of legal rights are waivable -- they're property the holder is allowed to sell. But many are not, and the main reason is to eliminate competition with other people who don't want to sell those rights at the going price. In the case of working extra hours for free, the effect (by design) is to transfer wealth from people with more natural employable talent to people with less, as a group.

There are moral arguments for and against that transfer, and that way of doing it, and the same would apply to the issue of an employer conditioning a job offer on the employee handing over delete power on his phone. (As for the legal arguments, I really have no idea).

Remotely wiping mobile phones - by employee agreement

Posted Sep 21, 2010 20:49 UTC (Tue) by dvdeug (subscriber, #10998) [Link]

But many are not, and the main reason is to eliminate competition with other people who don't want to sell those rights at the going price.

The main reason is to prevent those whose main employable talents is being filthy rich from working people who weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth to death, just because these working people need to feed their families.

Remotely wiping mobile phones - by employee agreement

Posted Sep 21, 2010 22:33 UTC (Tue) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

But many are not, and the main reason is to eliminate competition with other people who don't want to sell those rights at the going price.
The main reason is to prevent those whose main employable talents is being filthy rich from working people who weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth to death, just because these working people need to feed their families.

Of course, but you missed the point, which is about the mechanism for stopping filthy rich people from doing that. The reason the filthy rich person, with all rights being waivable, would be able to entice someone to work to death is that the worker is competing for the job with other workers who are willing to work to death. By removing everyone else's ability to waive his right to work to death, we eliminate that competition and force the filthy rich person to offer a better job to everyone.

The ultimate effect is a redistribution of wealth from the filthy rich employer to the workers. But this is just one mechanism for doing that.

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 22:40 UTC (Wed) by njs (guest, #40338) [Link]

Yes, I'm sure some people make great straw men... I just see people saying it's abusive to wipe people's phones as punishment for trying to read their email, which you seem to have left off your list. The person I actually see here with "crazy ideas about what is abusive" is you, when you claimed that there was no such thing as an abusive policy (so long as it's clearly stated).

BTW, as another commenter noted, requiring unpaid labor is often illegal, and in many contexts requiring female employees to wear revealing uniforms is too. (In the US, Hooters and strip clubs etc. can get away with it because it's part of the service provided, but try, say, imposing those same requirements on non-customer-facing employees and see what the courts say...)

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 16, 2010 7:40 UTC (Thu) by Np237 (subscriber, #69585) [Link]

Requiring employees to not use their personal phone is not abusive.

Wiping their personal phone, regardless of what it was used for, *is* abusive. And illegal in many countries.

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 22:07 UTC (Wed) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

> I dislike it when people claim that a clearly laid out policy is "abusive." Agree to it or not, but if you agree to it, it clearly wasn't that abusive.

I actually meant an *illegal* policy, sorry for the confusion. Signing it does not make it legal.

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 23:13 UTC (Wed) by SiB (subscriber, #4048) [Link]

I am pretty sure that it is illegal to have that kind of wall outlets in a place where you have emploees working. At least in Germany. Workplace safety law kind of illegal.

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 16, 2010 9:04 UTC (Thu) by debacle (subscriber, #7114) [Link]

Supplies with 280 V @ 75 Hz are illegal in Germany in both home and work place, with the possible exception of laboratories decorated with large blinking warning signs and access restriction to people in long white lab coats.

In general, employers and employees do not have the same level of power or strength. Because of this inbalance, at least in Europe, there is no unlimited "freedom of contract". Even if an employee signs a policy, not everything would be valid. About this specific case, the whiping of a private telephone, I assume it would be illegal in Germany, even if the employee has signed the policy. But before there is a real case and a court takes a decision, we cannot know.

Potentially risky

Posted Sep 15, 2010 21:00 UTC (Wed) by copsewood (subscriber, #199) [Link]

Knowingly placing a device under control of a remote system ? As a Blackberry user, and an email admin I'm not so sure the employee would be aware of this potential unless informed and having signed something to state the access and modification as authorised by them. The UK Computer Misuse Act is a criminal matter and requires the party accessing a system and data and modifying it to be authorised to do this by the owner of the system. This seems potentially risky for the company and its email admin employees if they get this wrong.

Remotely wiping mobile phones

Posted Sep 15, 2010 22:05 UTC (Wed) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"Except that these companies have policies which the employees have presumably read and agreed to."

Private contract does not trump the Law of the Land(*).
The previous poster said, 'In the UK' that would probably be illegal.
I can add to that that in France it IS illegal, and from article I read about Sweden, Norway, Germany, to name a few, I believe that it would be illegal there too.

In the US, The legality of each would hinge - I think - on who is the owner of the device is.
It is not that obvious that a remote wipe on the personal device, especially of personal data, would be uphold as legal by the court.


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