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Stakeholders have asked us as an IT department for solutions to track employee's locations without said employee's being able to disable this service or even know about this service is running on issued Blackberrys. Any solutions to this?

Are there any legal issues with doing this?


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I admittedly know nothing of the actual legality of doing that, however I would agree with MikeyB below. Ask company counsel. Such a request would also give me great cause for concern as well because your company would know the whereabouts of it's employees at all times (off work, on the weekends, at the son or daughter's baseball game, at the bar, at grandmaw's house, etc.) Good luck, I certainly don't envy the position this puts you in. – Greg Meehan Sep 4 '09 at 23:43
Two words: Faraday cage. – Dennis Williamson Sep 5 '09 at 0:03
@Dennis: You may as well just turn the phone off / remove the battery / leave it at home if you're going to put it in a foil bag. It's not like you can make or receive calls when it's in the faraday cage anyhow. – chris Dec 16 '09 at 15:41
@Chris: Then you need to turn it on/put the battery back in/go without it. A slipcase that's a Faraday cage is convenient. – brent Jan 29 '10 at 19:56
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Write a system application for the Blackberry that collects location information and reports it back to a central server every so often.

Deploy the application via BES as part of a Software Configuration and make it mandatory.

If you make it a system module, it will not appear as a task on the device. Make the name innocuous as well so that they won't suspect what it is or know about it.

Test the heck out of it :)

Regarding the legal issues, that is a question you need to ask your company lawyers.

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Thanks, this sounds like a solution. I just hope they don't give me the resources to actually accomplish this. – mxmissile Sep 7 '09 at 15:22

I believe location tracking is built into newer devices with firmware 4.2.2 or later. On my BES (4.1) there is an IT policy rule that you can build into a policy (Location Based Services Group -> Enable Enterprise Location Tracking). In the same group of rules there are options for telling the user they're being tracked, as well as an option to change the reporting interval.

That said, I have no idea where the BES stores this tracking data, nor how to get to it.

As others have also mentioned, definitely clear it with your company's legal department beforehand.

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I am not a lawyer. I think this article ( covers a similar situation. The case was brought about over warrantless police tracking, but take a gander at that last paragraph.

No matter what the company's lawyers say (and they could say anything, it is their job to argue "for" the company, not for truth, justice, or liberty), you probably ought to get both the lawyers and the stakeholders involved to personally sign a document stating that they are taking all of the responsibility for this, etc. If they do not want to sign it, that is in indication that they feel uncertain about the legality and want you (and your job, and your career) as a buffer between them and any legal repercussions. Have it notarized, if you can.

Then keep that document in a safe deposit box.

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If the Blackberry belongs to the company, and if the tool only does the reporting on the job-hours (8-4, 8-5, 8-8, whatever the shift is), then it's probably legal.

Might be a little nicer to ask the users/employees to press a button to update their location, so you can keep track of where they were at what time. The bonus of doing that is that you can then ask them why it took them four hours to go up four blocks. Knowing that they went to an adult store on company time is certainly a good thing, but some discretion may be good. Big Brother, but maybe not all the way.

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