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Your boss is watching: 82% of employees fear BYOD brings invasion of privacy

A new online survey has shown many employees are far from comfortable with the privacy implications of BYOD (bring you own device) policies at work.

On behalf of Fiberlink, Harris Interactive undertook a study (opens in new tab) in July 2012, sampling 2,243 adults to gauge the feeling towards BYOD among enterprise workers. The concept has been welcomed by industry bosses across a variety of sectors, with the versatility of using the same phone or tablet at home and in the office aiding productivity and reducing costs.

But according to the survey results, workers are less enamoured with the policy, primarily because of concerns over their privacy. With employers having access to their activity via BYOD software systems, 82 per cent consider the ability to be tracked an invasion of their privacy. Meanwhile, 75 per cent said they would not allow their employer to install an app which gives the company the ability to locate them out of work hours in exchange for access to corporate resources.

(opens in new tab)The idea of having one’s location tracked may seem more intrusive, but an even greater 82 per cent marked themselves as "concerned to extremely concerned" about their employer tracking websites they browse on devices outside of work time. Again demonstrating the potential problems of merging work with leisure and professional with personal, 86 per cent of respondents also said they were concerned to extremely concerned about the unauthorised deletion of their personal pictures, music and email profiles.

Those with no concern for their privacy under a BYOD system are in a minority, as just 15 per cent of the survey’s respondents said they were not at all worried about employers tracking personal apps installed on their devices. The same figure had no issue with their location being tracked during non-work time.

The statistics provided by Harris Interactive touch upon an important issue for company bosses, who may forget about the negative impact a policy can have on staff when its benefits are more immediately apparent. One firm seeking to regain corporate hegemony by helping to refine systems like BYOD is RIM, which has been talking up the new BlackBerry Balance feature set to be included on next year’s BlackBerry 10 platform.

BlackBerry Balance provides a partition to maintain two separate, encrypted identities on the same device which are firewalled from one another, allowing the user to switch between their professional and personal profile without merging information. The feature could put some of the worried minds of this survey at ease and propagate the use of BYOD as a whole.

Will began working life as a technology journalist at ITProPortal as Senior Staff Writer. He's worked as a Copywriter, then Creative Lead across video, social, email, web and print. He is currently a Senior Content Strategist at Zone.