Jade Lee: Data security is an important part of electronics recycling

Data security is an important part of electronics recycling, one that many people overlook, says Jade Lee, president of Supply-Chain Services. She tells the story of a client involved in handling sensitive health data for individuals.

“The client had strict protocols for data security and protecting the information of the data inside its operations,” she said. However, when it came time to dispose of the technology that managed the sensitive data, such vigilance lapsed.

Jade Lee

“The procedure was to set the equipment out on the loading dock for pickup,” she said. Policies for   tracking and documentation of security stopped once equipment had been identified for recycling.

Technology can include multitudes of personally sensitive data in its disks and drives: credit card and bank account information, contact numbers, health data, family histories, in fact nearly everything identity thieves or other criminals could need to steal identities or access to financial data. For corporations, sensitive business information can be left behind that should not be released to the public, for competitive or liability concerns.

Supply-Chain Services, based in Lombard, Ill., firm is a leader in electronics recycling, asset management and other essential services for large companies.  The company holds six certifications relating to recycling and asset management: ISO 9001: Quality Management System, ISO 14001: Environmental Management System, OHSAS 18001: Occupational Health & Safety, National Association for Information Destruction (NAID): Certified on Electronic Data Sanitization and Destruction, R2: EPA’s “Responsible Recycling” standard and RIOS™ the  Recycling Industry Operating Standard® that incorporates the key operational controls for Environment, Health and Safety and Quality, which is also an accredited management system standard   developed for the entire recycling industry.

Lee said she wants her clients and the general public to consider what will happen to their technology assets after it leaves their hands. Even people who bring their electronics into state or manufacturer sponsored electronics recycling programs should consider what happens to their sensitive data after it leaves their possession.

“People do not know, behind the scenes, what happens to their electronics, and that worries me a lot,” says Lee. “You would think data would be taken care of from computers, but it is not.”

Governments who operate electronics recycling programs for their residents should also take care to ask difficult questions of their service providers. They should visit the facilities where electronics will be handled and audit their service providers to ensure data security measures are in place.

For more information on responsible recycling and data security, visit http://www.epa.gov/reg3wcmd/eCycling/responsible_electronics_management.pdf