Controlling Cell Phones the new IT Frontier

no cell phones
Personal cell phones are on the IT hit list.

It won’t be long before your employer starts jamming or confiscating your personal cell phone. Wait a minute isn’t that a tad hyperbolic? Wouldn’t that trigger an avalanche of “freedom of speech” lawsuits?  Wouldn’t people yell “fornicate elsewhere” and quit?  Ahh, if only it were so.  I would love to be wrong about this but I have a superb track record when it comes to predicating IT control freak trends.

In my long programming career I’ve never met a “liberty loving” IT manager. There’s something utterly intoxicating about being in a place where reliable minions, (dead computers for the most part), completely manifest your vision.  I’ve watched the most libertarian of programmers turn into Dilbertian despots when tasked with network security, software procurement or SOX compliance. IT’s first impulse is to control, control and control even if control is counterproductive.

Here’s the sad news. Most IT polices are counterproductive and they never fix the problems they claim to address.  Consider my case. I have never introduced a network virus, distributed proprietary company information or collaborated with competitors.  Everywhere I’ve worked had specific IT policies for these, and other corporate crimes, but I could have easily circumvented 95% of them at any time. The only defense any of my employers ever had was my personal honesty and integrity.

Unfortunately my personal honesty and integrity is beyond the control of IT and, as I have said before, control is key when it comes to IT. If IT cannot control it they won’t even recognize it!  This is why we end up with abominations like SOX — perhaps the must ludicrous bit of micro-managing nonsense ever foisted on American companies. Incidentally SOX does SFO when it comes to preventing the Enronesque crimes it was intended to prevent. Don’t believe me, ask Jon Corzine about where MF’s billions went.

Exactly where do personal cell phones fit into IT policies? When cell phones first appeared they were just phones. Now they’re web browsers, cameras, microphones, stereos, GPS receivers and recently full-fledged programming environments. So much power and all outside of IT’s control. Most employers keep lists of banned websites. What’s the use of tasking neutered lackeys with maintaining a list of banned websites if an employee can whip out an iPhone and browse at will? What’s the point of banning USB drives and locking down proprietary files if you can take a quick snapshot of your monitor and post it on Facebook?  IT has a personal cell phone problem and I can guarantee that whatever twisted solution their misguided minds fixate on it will have nothing to do with employee honesty and integrity.

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