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Data privacy at work – following Apple’s lead

Earlier this year, Apple upped the ante in the area of corporate social responsibility for data privacy by unveiling new solutions and technology to help users protect the privacy of their personal data. Specifically, they introduced something called “privacy nutrition labels” for all apps in their app store:

These labels show consumers exactly the type of data that developers can collect through their apps. It’s this level of transparency that’s desperately needed to make people more aware of the kind of information that’s being tracked so they can make conscious decisions about what they share and what they don’t.

As important as this is in one’s personal life, it’s also critical that people are aware that they can be digitally surveilled by their employers in their work life. This is why so many digital privacy experts recommend having separate devices for work and personal computing. Traditionally, it’s been the only way to ensure that your employer doesn’t have eyes on your personal activities. However, given the amount of computing many of us do in a given day and how mobile many of us are, it’s becoming more difficult to create that clear separation between work and personal computing tasks. There’s simply too much context switching throughout the day and not enough time to create a clear divide.

What we need is a way to cleanly separate work and personal computing using technology. At OS33, we have started this journey by creating an app called Workplace which you run to do work. The beautiful thing about this architecture is that your company only “sees” the work apps and data that they make available through Workplace. Everything else that you run on that device (assuming it’s a personal one without some sort of corporate-deployed monitoring software) is outside the purview of Workplace.

The other thing that Workplace does is provide the same kind of transparency as Apple in terms of showing employees exactly what information is being collected about them. Here’s a sample of logging info I’m able to see as an employee:

I’m proud to work for a company that develops a platform that puts the user first. Not only in terms of experience, but also by respecting my privacy as an individual. In the near future, we will launch a new version of Workplace that will ensure that work data cannot “leak” into an employee’s personal space. These product enhancements will further improve our unwavering commitment to firm and client data security and privacy.

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