Who owns a BYOD

Issues on ownership of BYODs

BYOD PolicyOrganizations of all sizes face the legal question of who actually needs to own the device. There’s no clear answer to that question as yet, but the underlying issue concerns when ownership is necessary to gain management control. But more conservative organizations often decide they need legal ownership of the device.

Bring Your Own Device Sample

The result has been three different approaches to handling ownership, in order of popularity:

  • Shared management. The organization’s contractor and employment policies boil down to “if you access business resources from a personal device, you give us the right to manage, lock, and even wipe that device, even if you end up losing personal data and apps as a result.” This is often codified with a written agreement that spells out management expectations for both parties.
  • Corporate ownership and provisioning. The organization buys and owns the device, even if it allows non-business use on it. Employees who don’t like the phone service on such devices (they may not get free minutes when calling family members and friends) are free to carry a personal device as well that has no corporate access.
  • Legal transfer. The organization buys the device from the user. In some cases, that ownership is permanent — a surefire way to dissuade employees from participating. In other cases, the organization buys the device for a token amount (say, a dollar) and gives the user the right to use it for personal purposes, then commits to selling it back for the same price when the employee leaves the organization. That’s more likely to gain user acceptance than a one-way purchase.

Author: Victor Janulaitis

M. Victor Janulaitis is the CEO of Janco Associates. He has taught at the USC Graduate School of Business, been a guest lecturer at the UCLA's Anderson School of Business, a Graduate School at Harvard University, and several other universities in various programs.