"A mobile phone "feature" that is touted as a way to remove data
from stolen phones is also being used in far less reasonable ways.
It is, or could be seen as, an anti-feature added for the benefit
of companies, but without taking users' needs into consideration.
The "remote wipe" available for (at least) Android, iOS, and Palm's
webOS allows Exchange administrators to remotely reset logged-in
mobile phones—removing all personal data and resetting them
to factory defaults.
"The amount of sensitive information that is stored on mobile
phones today—especially smartphones—is quite
substantial. It is no surprise that both companies and individuals
are worried about those phones falling into the wrong hands. Under
those circumstances, one can well imagine that being able to
remotely wipe that data as quickly as possible would be seen as a
"But there are a number of concerns with the current approach.
As Nathan Hamblen reports on his blog, remote wipe is currently
being misused by Exchange administrators to punish users who access
their corporate email from unapproved devices. In many, perhaps
most, cases, those unapproved devices are the personal property of
a user who is just trying to get their work done. One can
understand administrators wanting to impose draconian access rules,
and even to enforce them, but punishing users by deleting their
photos, applications, and other personal data seems just a tad
beyond the pale."