Have you ever heard the saying “beware of Greeks bearing gifts“? It originated from the Trojan War, when the Greeks left a large “Trojan Horse” at the gates of Troy. The Trojans foolishly brought it inside, thinking that the Greeks had given up (after 10 years of war) and sailed home. Of course, the belly of the horse was filled with armed soldiers, who soon destroyed Troy.
Parties involved in litigation would be wise to learn from the Trojans’ mistake, so as not to meet their same fate. In short, litigants should never accept smartphones as gifts – period – without exception. With today’s ever-changing technology, if someone gives you a smartphone, there is simply no way to ensure that it’s safe and secure, and if you accept it, you do so at great risk.
It is possible for a smartphone to have spyware or other malware preinstalled on it, and you may not have any way of easily detecting that it has been infected. This malware can do all sorts of harmful, nefarious things, such as transmitting copies of all of your texts/emails, allowing a third party to listen in to all of your phone calls, or even enabling a third party to eavesdrop on you when you aren’t even using your phone.
Of course, such behavior is illegal, and if detected, it should subject the responsible party to criminal prosecution. However, the reality is that these types of spyware programs are difficult to detect and even harder to trace back to the offending party. As inexpensive as smartphones have become, you would be very foolish to accept one as a gift when you are involved in litigation, and it’s much better to be safe then sorry!