Frank Spaeing

A Smartphone travels…

What advice do we offer irritated employees and colleagues who enquire from how to respond when immigration officials demand that access to Facebook or other social media accounts on company or personal Smartphones be unblocked?

Already in 2008, a court ruled that confiscation of electronic devices was permissible. The Electronic Frontier Foundation published a on this topic in 2011 on how to protect data.

It is advisable in general to remove all confidential information such as documents, pictures, SMSs, other Messenger data or contacts from the device. Should the Smartphone not have a specific secure area for business communication, as Blackberrys have, then e-mail accounts with confidential data should be secured not only by the blocking password but also by an additional (strong) password.

Should the traveller be “forced” to disclose his password, then a further even stronger password may sometimes be useful .

The best and safest solution – especially for business travellers – would be to delete their Smartphone data before travelling to the country of their destination and to then download the previously secured data again from a trustworthy Cloud.

With Facebook (and other social media providers) one should be aware from the start that the provider has power of disposal over the data and that they are subject to his General Terms and Conditions and usage provisions which he exclusively determines and amends. Information considered confidential by you or the employer should not be stored there.

For further information please refer to (in English).

Rudi Kramer, Deputy BvD Chairman
(with supplements by Regina Mühlich and Frank Spaeing)