Staff assists for interviewing tech searches

Members of a popular internet forum supported a skeptical employee who questioned the legality of her employer’s privacy policy.

In a viral Reddit post published on r/antiwork, Redditor u/pretendlawyer13 (aka original poster or OP) said that her employer’s HR department recently informed employees that their personal cell phones were being randomly searched.

The viral post, titled “HR told us they can search our home phones at any time,” has garnered nearly 21,000 votes and 2,300 comments in the last eight hours.

“Today, during a staff meeting, employees were told that since we use our phones for work-related things (e.g. calls to other employees/managers/customers, texts, pictures, maps) our phones can be searched at any time. ‘ wrote the original poster.

The original poster explained that employees are not provided with devices for company business and expressed skepticism about random cell phone searches.

“I don’t think that’s legal,” they wrote. “I think they need a warrant or a subpoena if they want anything personal from me.”

Employer is looking for personal devices
Redditors were quick to respond to an employee who said his employer threatened to randomly search personal devices “whenever he wants.”
It’s better every day to do what you love/iStock/Getty Images Plus

2019 popular business medium Fast company took an in-depth look at the employer-sponsored sweep of employees’ personal devices in an article aptly titled “If you use your personal phone for work, you’re saying goodbye to your privacy.”

By investigating the case of a former Google employee whose personal cell phone was wiped clean after being fired, Fast company found that in cases where employees need to use their own devices to complete work tasks (with communications applications, enterprise software, etc.), there is a much greater risk of 24/7 surveillance.

“There are many legitimate reasons why an organization would want to use this technology: It allows them to implement security measures to protect corporate data in email and other apps,” Fast company Writer Sean Captain wrote.

“But they can also spy on you or erase all your data,” Captain added.

Despite the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which “prohibits intentional access to a computer without authorization or in excess of authorization,” the definition of authority when it comes to computer privacy remains ambiguous.

Due to ambiguity surrounding the protection of personal devices, it is recommended that employees are provided with company-owned devices to complete work-related tasks.

“If a company says you need to be online, they should provide the equipment to do it,” Captain claimed. “As inconvenient as it is to lug around two devices, the hassle (and danger) of leaving your own device in corporate control is far worse.”

Throughout the comments section of the viral Reddit post, countless Redditors were vocal in reiterating this opinion.

“Stop using your personal phone for work,” wrote Redditor u/ShakespearOnIce in the top comment of the post, which garnered more than 15,000 votes.

“If they complain about it, tell them to give you the tools you need to work,” they added.

Redditor u/OldGreyFoxx, whose comment received more than 8,500 votes, offered a similar answer.

“Tell HR that you do not want to bear the cost of the company’s security protocol and that a device should be provided with your compensation,” they wrote.

“You’re crossing the line,” interjected Redditor u/cross9107. “I’d like to politely mention that work phones should be given out if they want the ability to search them.”

“HR is delusional,” wrote Redditor u/reddogjrw in a comment that garnered more than 5,000 votes.

“People should just stop using their personal phones for work and see how that goes,” they added.

In a separate comment, Redditor u/WillArrr fleshed out the ideas of numerous other commenters.

“If you want full access to a device, the company can provide one for you,” they wrote. “If the company doesn’t provide one and HR still insists on full access, stop using your phone for work entirely.”

“Do you need to make a phone call from the field?” Drive your ass back to the office and call there from a landline,” they added. Staff assists for interviewing tech searches

Rick Schindler

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