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When the path to destruction has a happy ending

Nov 12, 2018
The word destruction usually has negative connotations, but in Europe at least, after the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), introduced in May 2018, it has suddenly become a buzzword in the corporate world.

When the path to destruction has a happy ending banner

GDPR gives European citizens increased rights over their personal data, ups the ante on data breaches and has changed the world of information management.

Businesses know they may be called upon to edit or delete the personal data they hold at any time and are under pressure to ensure they have consent to store it in the first place. They must also adhere to a strict compliance structure around data breaches.

So, what’s the answer when you have a pile of historic data collected in the days when consent rules were more lax, or is being kept without any real reason or plan?

The answer, according to David Fathers, Regional General Manager at Crown Records Management, may be simpler than you think.

“We’re finding that a lot of businesses are realising that secure destruction can play an important part in their bid for compliance,” said David. “Many companies stockpile data for no reason at all. Data that is beyond its use-by date, data that is no longer relevant to the business, or data stored on formats that are no longer accessible. Often physical data is stored in boxes and sent to a warehouse never to be seen again.”

In the past this kind of data was not a big risk, it was effectively put away and forgotten, but after GDPR it’s a very different story. The new regulations apply to physical data as well as digital data – so those boxes are suddenly a problem. Keeping data in formats which can no longer be accessed is an issue too. How are you going to edit or delete personal data when you can’t even get to it?

According to Crown, securely destroying out of date boxes can aid GDPR compliance and help avoid data breaches. It can save money in the long term too because there is a cost attached to physical storage. Destroying a box normally costs around the same as the price of storage for one year.

Old office equipment can be a data risk and destroying it reduces the threat of data breaches. Multifunctional devices with hard drives such as copiers, scanners and printers can contain sensitive information such as copies of printed and scanned documents. Mobile phones, laptops and hard drives can contain huge amounts of personal data and secure destruction is the only certain way to prevent breaches.

Secure destruction can have environmental benefits. Encouraging a paper-free office in the first place, by restricting what information is printed and photocopied, is both sensible and environmentally-friendly. This equipment is a regular source of data breaches because it is so easy to lose track of data once it has been copied.

Reducing the number of boxes in storage also has environmental benefits, as recycling paper material conserves natural resources. Crown Records Management estimates that 2006 trees and 321 litres of water could be saved if the 350,000 boxes it holds that are past their ‘destroy date’ are securely destroyed and recycled.

David Fathers, Regional General Manager, Crown Records Management
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