The past week has been a good one for those of us who follow developments in digital privacy law and practice. Whether you like Apple or not, they have surfaced the important tension between our need for privacy and our need for protection. This discussion needs to be had – and the widespread media coverage has helped to educate a public that has been relatively oblivious to the relationship between privacy by encryption and security by surveillance.
Another, less divisive, lesson to be taken from the Apple vs. FBI dispute is that mobile device management (MDM) is important. The phone the FBI wants to hack into is a San Bernardino County issued iPhone. Organizations who provide smart phones to their employees have an obligation to consider the implications of the use, misuse, and loss of that device. MDM is software that allows an IT department to manage the device and it’s contents remotely. Among other things, it can control the apps that are installed, remotely erase all data, and unlock the phone. Although San Bernardino County was paying for MDM, it had not yet been installed on the phone in question.
For IT departments still struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing calls for more devices, a faster move to the cloud, and greater IT flexibility for its workforce, the MDM lesson is valuable. Progress is important, but so is the protection and control of information. Build privacy, security and information governance into your IT planning and deployments. It is a good investment.