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Gartner says camera phone bans in the workplace not effective

STAMFORD, Conn.-Research and consulting firm Gartner Inc. came out against camera phone bans in the workplace, asserting such restrictions are shortsighted and hard to enforce. The firm said businesses would be better served by designating secure zones where restrictions can be enforced, while also offering guidelines about what is acceptable.

“Usage guidelines will be far more effective than outright bans because it’s not just the phones’ cameras that could pose a security risk,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst for Gartner. “For example, many phones can also record voices. Therefore, it’s hard to decide where to draw a firm line about what can and can’t be used at work.”

Gartner said there are a flood of high-tech consumer devices, not just camera phones, entering the workplace that could pose a security risk.

“There are Universal Serial Bus ‘key ring’ drives, some of which will soon feature built-in cameras that can quickly connect to almost any recent PC and take large amounts of information off the premises. There’s also a new wave of DVD burners to contend with,” said Ken Dulaney, research vice president at Gartner. “Any company policy directed at camera phones should be widened to address the transfer of information from enterprise environments to consumer devices in general.”

Gartner said more than 80 percent of mobile phones shipped in the United States and Western Europe will have cameras by 2006. Several major firms, notably Samsung Electronics and General Motors, have enacted bans on camera phones.

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