Privacy Risks in Recycling eWaste

29 December 2015 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

Once upon a time I bought a used hard drive at a computer resale shop which I needed for a patent infringement suit I was defending about software developed for a 1987 Apple Mac computer.  The hard drive contained all of the client files for a well-known law firm in my home town.  Apparently neither the lawyers nor their IT folks bothered to properly wipe the contents.   It’s not hard to eliminate sensitive data from computers, phones, and tablets, but everyone must think about it given the size of eWaste.  According to the according to a report by the United Nations University, the academic and research arm of the United Nations by some estimates:

…consumers threw away 92 billion pounds of used electronics last year, up from 87.7 billion pounds the previous year.

Of course many online services offer trade-in programs including Amazon’s Trade-In program which:

…allows customers to receive an Amazon Gift Card in exchange for hundreds of thousands of eligible items including phones, electronics, video games, books, DVDs, and CDs.

Given the size of electronic eWaste it is all the more essential that sellers remove sensitive data to protect their privacy, so don’t just hand over any electronic device without making sure all of your personal and business data has been completed removed.

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