Ahhh, Smart Offices, Hot Coffee. But Watch Out for Legal Risks
Like your coffee hot when you get to the office? Want the workplace temperature to self-adjust to the weather? If the answer is “you bet,” be aware that corporate legal risks can go hand in hand with the conveniences of internet-connected devices.
Commonly known as the Internet of Things, these devices are connected to each other via the internet and exchange data. They include Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo smart speaker and Microsoft Corp.’s Cortana virtual assistant, which can assist employees at their desks using voice-activated intelligent digital capabilities.
“There is the potential for hackers to access these devices to listen in and potentially record,” Nilesh Patel, a technology attorney with Frost Brown Todd LLC, told Bloomberg Law. “This type of hacking could effectively turn the device into a big ‘bug’ sitting right on your desk or counter.”
The legal implications for employers allowing the use of personal assistance devices, or internet-enabled, voice-activated products that help with simple tasks like setting alarms, answering online search questions, and making phone calls, are “potentially tremendous,” Patel said. Legal implications for security flaws in these and other connected devices could center on whether or not users are aware that the devices are recording, and if they are told who has access to the recordings, he said.
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