The New Digital Age of Privacy: What the Supreme Court Ruling on Privacy Could Mean to Employees

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled in a very important way that has strong implications for the employee/employer relationship. In the increasingly mobile world that we live in today this was an enormous victory for privacy. The Supreme Court held that the information and data contained on cellphones, an everyday extension of most people’s personalities, should not be subjected to warrantless searches. Specifically, the court said that for criminals who are arrested their cellphones and the information they contain, can’t be searched without a warrant. But it is understood that the ruling itself will have a far broader reach in to the debate on privacy and the relationship between tablets, desktops and those who use them.

So what will this ruling mean for employees in the workplace? It should be said that business is typically committed to any solution that can mitigate risk to the enterprise. It is in the best interest of the enterprise to be invested in the privacy of their employees because they do not want to inadvertently expose themselves to an employee’s private information, opening the enterprise up to significant liability. And with the growing concerns around end-user privacy now, more than ever, the enterprise is very willing make this investment a reality.

That said, it is also worth noting that employees still have concerns over what private information their employer can, and can not, access. As was seen in a recent Adaptive Mobile report 70% of US employees said that they would stop using their devices if they knew that their employer had the ability to collect their personal data. So despite the growing interest of employers to be committed to the privacy of their employees there still seems to be some misunderstanding.

Moreover, the fluidity of the privacy debate and what this current ruling demonstrates is a need for employees and employers to be ahead of the curve. How can employers fully prepare for the future change of privacy? It goes without saying that the enterprise can’t truly address the privacy concerns of their employees without making the end-user, the employee, their top priority. And when it comes to employees’ smartphones and tablets, as the ruling also points out, the concerns over privacy are intensified because of the extent of the vast amount of personal information that these devices contain. There is an enormous concentration of delicately private information that we carry around with us almost everywhere we go today.

For the employee who is overwhelmed by privacy concerns and trying to determine the level of privacy that they can expect while working on their device, and for the employer who is concerned with the risk relating to employee data that contains a high concentration of private information there is only one solution. A multi-persona solution, that unlike a container, creates a strong separation between the professional and personal realms, is the only solution that can avoid uncertainty and provide both parties with the confidence and protection that they truly need in the new digital age of privacy.