Here's the background:

Approximately 1.25 years ago, the company I work for was acquired by a larger 400 person company. Before acquisition (and today still) we are all remote employees using our own personal hardware for work-related duties (coding, email, etc). We are approximately 15 employees within the larger organization.

Some time after acquisition, the now owning company was slapped with a civil lawsuit. Part of this lawsuit (discovery) is requiring them to retrieve & store from us any related information. Because we were a separate company up until acquisition, there is a high probability that our personal machines might contain information about what the lawsuit alleges (email, documents, chat logs?, etc). Obviously, this depends largely on the person's job function (engineer vs. customer support vs. CEO). All employees are being required to comply.

Since acquisition (1.25 yrs), the new company has not provided us with company laptops/desktops. We continue to use personal hardware, licenses, etc for work.

Email is via POP3s and not hanging around on the mail server - it's on everyone's client.

Documents are spread across personal machines.

So, now they want us each to backup our complete personal machines. They are allowing us to create a "personal" folder where we can place personal documents. That single folder will be excluded from backup. Of course, that means total re-arrangement of documents, etc. For most of us, 99% of the data on the machine is NOT related to work.

So, what's the consensus? Should we comply? What is their recourse if we do not?

closed as off topic by EEAA, Shane Madden, Iain, Zoredache, Ben Pilbrow Sep 20 '11 at 17:06

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  • 12
    You need to seek advice of a lawyer on this. My personal feeling is that that you need to either find alternate employment or refuse to use your personal equipment for work related activities. It's never a good situation for anyone involved to have work data on non-work-owned equipment. – EEAA Sep 20 '11 at 16:58
  • 3
    ... and it is not good to have personal data on work-owned equipment. – mailq Sep 20 '11 at 17:01
  • 2
    Buy a second computer. Use one for work, and one for home stuff. Or setup a virtual machine on your hardware, and then only do your work in the VM. – Zoredache Sep 20 '11 at 17:06

Keep in mind you are in a sense, under court order through your employer. So be careful - pissing off your employer is one thing, the court, another. If it were me, I'd be looking for other employment.

You could consider creating a virtual machine that you do all company work on and backing it up rather than your personal machine.

  • +1 for the VM. Isolate them. Simple. If you are using WIndows, WIndows 8 brings finally Hyper-V to the client. Employer in a sandbox - best way. If they are public and in the US the anyway violate SOX for example with POP3 and no proper archiving ;) – TomTom Jun 15 '12 at 14:58

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