Whether you agree with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady or Judge Berman’s ruling overturning the suspension, a big issue involved in the decision was Tom Brady destroying his cellphone and not turning it over to those from the NFL investigating Deflategate. Many companies have what is called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Rather than using company issued technology be it a phone, computer or tablet; the employee is allowed to have specific company access and information on their personal device. Many of these companies require the employee participating in a BYOD setup to sign an agreement. Many of these agreements allow for the company to take possession of an employee’s personal devices if certain circumstances are met.
What is happening in today’s world is that there is a meshing of business and personal data on devices. What rights does an employer have to your personal computer, tablet and/or phone? Disclosure: I am not an attorney and am not qualified to provide legal advice. If you have a legal issue regarding this, you should consult a qualified attorney. The issue with Tom Brady destroying his cellphone is that NFL investigators had wanted it in order to review alleged text messages that Brady wanted the footballs inflated to a less than standard pounds per square inch (psi). But was Brady required to turn over his personal cell phone? That is the issue here. Since the NFL claims that Brady was texting about what in affect was NFL business that they have a right to his personal phone. This is regardless of any BYOD policy since Brady from what we know did not have company (New England Patriots) data or apps on his phone. The texts may have indicated that he did NFL business on his phone. Now there is a bit of an exaggeration by the NFL. By destroying his cell phone, Tom Brady’s record of text messages is not gone forever. They likely were and still are stored on the servers of his phone provider. A court order would make these records available. That said, I am not aware that Tom Brady is or has been under a criminal or civil investigation. From what I understand, being under a civil or criminal investigation would very well change things as it should.
Regardless the lines between personal and business are becoming more and more blurred. This extends to our personal communication devices and if certain circumstances are met you may have to provide these devices to your employer even though it personally belongs to you even if you are not charged criminally or civilly. Taking a look at this objectively and not one who is anti or pro Patriots and Brady what are your thoughts? In the absence of a criminal or civil investigation, or a BYOD agreement does your employer have a right to your personal phone or other technology?
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