Who Owns My Phone?

It’s a tussle between individuals and the wishes of business organizations wanting to protect their data. The “problem”, is that phones nowadays are so powerful, so ubiquitous, and used so much for personal and work needs. The “problem” is that individuals want to own the phone, because it’s personal; At the same time, work organizations want to own the phone because it contains work secrets.

This “problem” used to be limited to enterprise-type phones like Blackberries. But now, I’m faced with the same issue on Android.

I cannot understand why an Open Source platform like Android would subscribe to the idea of such a misfeature: To allow Microsoft Exchange server to remotely wipe all data on my phone. The misfeature was recently backported into the source of CyanogenMod 6 ROM. I’ve setup my phone to sync with Exchange, so that I can finally be compliant with my company’s corporate direction to use Microsoft-based collaborative mechanisms. Email, contacts and calendar, working very nicely on my phone. It’s really cool, since now both my phone and MacBook Pro can collaborate on Exchange.

Except that, now, my phone is asking me to grant the Email app the privilege to wipe all data on my phone. Huh? But… it’s my phone! Ok, if you say the company data belongs to the company, fine… then wipe the Exchange related data. Exchange email, Exchange contacts and Exchange calendar. But surely, not wipe all data from my phone?

Thank goodness for source code being available. I was annoyed enough to figure out what was changed, reverted the change, and rebuild the ROM. That’s the beauty of open source.