Whether Google Docs, Dropbox, or some other file sharing system, employees, especially millennials and other digital natives, are increasingly likely to set up personal cloud-based document sharing and storage accounts for work purposes, usually with well-meaning intentions, such as convenience and flexibility. Sometimes this is done with explicit company approval, sometimes it is done with tacit awareness by middle management, and often the employer is unaware of this activity.

When an employee quits or is terminated, however, that account, and the business documents it contains, may be locked away in an inaccessible bubble. Worse, the employee could access trade secrets and other information stored in the cloud to unfairly compete. For example, in 2012, the computer gaming company Zynga sued a former employee for uploading trade secrets onto the employee’s personal Dropbox account before leaving to work for a competitor. At a minimum, it may take time to recover the information or obtain the user name and password from the former employee.  Storage of proprietary information, especially personally identifiable information (PII) on personal cloud accounts also increases the risk of a company data breach if the information is hacked.  Finally, allowing business documents to be stored outside of the system can also create headaches when enacting a litigation hold or responding to electronic discovery requests in litigation. What should employers be doing now, to address this trend?

Interested in reading more? Please see the full post on the Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Report.