"If your iPhone has been given to you by your employer, why are you bothered about losing any data?"

Because you find you're in the same jeopardy if you use your personal phone to access your employer's Exchange server. Fair enough in some sense, but the loaned car is at least potentially reversed here -- Your work data is going for a free ride on your device.

I understand there are edge cases ("But wait, you had access to work email, so you may have saved precious docs to your phone! They have every right to erase those!"), but the OP's shock makes sense. I'd expect some sort of middle ground where you could erase the Exchange account automatically, but not, say, my personal pictures, reminders, etc. Heck, just sandbox files in Exchange accounts (don't allow their being saved outside of the Apple ecosystem) for that middle ground. etc etc
That's from a post I made to an admittedly zombied thread on Apple support.

Our company is apparently setting this up now, and I've got to say I think it means I'm taking my email off of my phone.  I don't mind if they trash that account on my phone or require that I lock the phone, or even could lock it by themselves, but wipe my data?  Not cool.  Surprised there's no alternative.

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