By: Attorney Samuel J. Spurney
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rapid shift to remote working unlike anything experienced before. While many businesses have scrambled to connect employees remotely using VPN, encrypted email, and other common data protection measures, one crucial in-home data protection practice has undoubtedly been overlooked by many – turning off Siri, Alexa, and other personal digital home assistants during work hours.
While Google, Amazon, and other tech companies have attempted to downplay the ability of these devices to record all conversations in your home, these devices are on at all times, are listening to all conversations, and are potentially recording and storing conversations. Regardless of how large tech companies access or utilize user conversations, these devices are able to be hacked, just like any other item of technology. Because of this, it would be very easy for company confidential information to be recorded, accessed, analyzed, and mined. By way of example – when is the last time you talked about a product and shortly thereafter the product or similar product has showed up in your Facebook feed or Google ad?
Many companies have implemented policies and guidelines prohibiting employees from using personal digital assistants in the office to protect company confidential information. However, now that thousands of employees are working remotely, it has become exceedingly difficult for employers to ensure that such policies have carried over to employees’ homes.
Provided that we do not yet know when office work will resume, reminding employees how their personal digital home assistants listen and potentially record, analyze, and mine conversations is of paramount importance. Requesting that employees unplug such devices during work hours would be a mindful precaution to take in the ongoing battle to protect company confidential information during this unprecedented time. Have additional questions for the SB Law team? Please contact us directly at Business@SteimleBirschbach.com.
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This post is provided for informational purposes only and by its very nature is general. This information is not intended as legal advice.