This month, I completed a book on the legal issues involved with managing mobile devices in the enterprise. The publisher will be the American Bar Association Section of Science & Technology Law.  I served as Chair of the Section from 2010 to 2011.  I expect the Section to publish the book in time for the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in August in San Francisco.  But the purpose of this article is to give you a sneak preview of what the book is going to say.

The first question to answer is why a book on mobile devices.  The answer is simple.  The country and world are undergoing a “mobile transformation” reshaping the way we do work, entertain ourselves, and live our daily lives.  Mobile computing poses one of the greatest challenges to IT departments in the workplace, and raises a whole host of legal issues.  The book helps prepare lawyers, business people, and technologists to meet the challenges posed by these legal issues.

I begin the book talking about the mobile transformation we are undertaking as a nation and in the world. IT departments are seeing the “consumerization” of information technology, an adoption of technology in the enterprise that first became popular in consumer products and services.  After discussing these topics, the book turns towards managing a mobile device program in the enterprise.  Key steps include risk analysis and management, determining who will own mobile devices (the employer or employee), establishing policies and supporting documentation, procuring the technology to support a mobile program, and implementing the program.

After this discussion, I turn to particular areas of law and the issues they raise.  The first is discovery in litigation.  Collecting and preserving evidence from mobile devices is the focus of this section.  The discussion then turns towards information security issues, and how to maintain the security of an employer’s information.  Privacy will be a key issue, as well as protecting trade secrets. Following the privacy discussion, I discuss cyber risk insurance and the interplay between insurance coverage and mobile computing.  Finally, I discuss the employment law issues surrounding mobile computing.

In the end, I turn towards future challenges relating to mobile computing.  Mobile computing is part of a set of larger transformations we are undertaking.  Examples include:

  • Globalization. Mobile computing will spread computing activity around the world with increasing and immersive connectivity, raising many international legal issues.
  • Payments. New forms of payment will arise to meet business needs raising privacy issues and questions about the reach of government.
  • Privacy. With mobile computing exponentially increasing the amount of data individuals generate and pass to service providers, privacy will become a key issue.
  • The Internet of Things.  People will start using network-connected versions of day-to-day equipment and control them through mobile devices.  For instance, workers may be able to lock and unlock a networked door lock remotely. Other examples include controls for heating, lighting, elevators, and closed circuit television cameras.  These new technologies raise their own privacy issues, as well as liability, control, and service level issues, to name a few.
  • Artificial intelligence and robotics.  Our mobile devices are already using artificial intelligence to assist us in our lives.  Think Siri on the iPhone.  But our mobile devices will also become integrated with robots.  The use of artificial intelligence and robotics will raise a huge number of legal issues in future decades.

Mobile computing is to our era what the adoption of PC was to the 1980s.  The mobile transformation, however, is happening much faster and on a far greater global scale than the PC revolution in the 1980s.  Accordingly, the time is right for sharing information on legal issues of mobile computing, and I hope that the book helps people prepare for the mobile transformation, which is now underway.

Stephen Wu
Partner, Cooke Kobrick & Wu LLP