Dual-use phones: the legal tangles

As West Virginia issues a variety of wireless devices to its employees, there are some legal tangles to resolve before people can begin to use their own personal devices at work. One question West Virginia's IT office is working out with the state’s general counsel is whether Freedom of Information Act provisions apply when employees use their own devices to conduct state business.

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The state also is determining costs and rules regarding reimbursements or stipends for employees who use their personal wireless devices. “What are the rules around that? For example, is it taxable?” asked Kyle Schafer, the state’s chief technology office. Another question: if the state provides a taxable reimbursement, does that affect the FOIA requirements?

After the state irons out those wrinkles, Schafer said many people who now carry two devices will probably opt to use their own devices and carry only one handheld. Good Technology’s system is helpful because it separates business data from a user’s personal information. If the IT department needs to remotely remove data from the device, the actions would only affect the business information, not a user’s personal data and contacts.

However, Schafer said, the state has not yet made a final decision about allowing individuals to use their own devices. “We think that’s the direction we’re going. But right now, we’ve got a technology that positions us to do that if that’s the final direction we decide to go in.”

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